Hans von Aachen (Cologne 1552 - Prague 1615) workshop
Adoration of the Shepherds
Oil on canvas (92 x 72 cm. - In frame 112 x 93 cm.)
The proposed painting, a work of excellent pictorial quality depicting the Adoration of the Shepherds, is ascribed to a painter from the workshop of Hans von Aachen (Cologne 1552 - Prague 1615) and can therefore be dated to between the end of the 16th century and the beginning of the 17th century.
It depicts the moment when the shepherds reach the hut of the Nativity: the Virgin, with St. Joseph at her side and two magnificent angels participating in the event, is portrayed proudly showing her child to the group of adoring shepherds. Three other playful angels hold the scroll with the announcement of the Saviour's birth.
Interesting in the work is the presence in the foreground of two figures who, although they could be confused with the shepherds, actually represent the donors who had financed the canvas at the time.
The compositional idea derives from the altarpiece that Hans von Aachen painted around 1577 in Rome for the Gesù Church and unfortunately lost, which we know today thanks to a copper engraving by Aegidius Sadeler (Antwerp 1568-Prague 1629)
The theatricality of the scene, which takes up the same structure as the original prototype, is enhanced by the vivid, intense and brilliant colours, as well as by the strength of the strokes of light that pierce the nocturnal setting.
From a technical point of view, we are led to consider our work as an interesting exemplar from the master's workshop, presumably executed to satisfy the numerous requests of the faithful who saw the canvas in Rome in its initial location.
Hans von Aachen was one of the best protagonists of international Mannerism at the turn of the century. His life was characterised by a long pilgrimage that led him from his hometown of Cologne to Italy for more than a decade, specifically to Venice (documented in 1574), then to Rome, where he painted the altarpiece of the Adoration of the Shepherds, and again to Florence (until around 1587).
Of this iconography, which enjoyed great fortune, several versions are known, both by the painter and by his workshop, often with some variants: we can mention the one preserved in the Alte Pinakothek, Munich
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