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The shepherds have brought the baby the gift of a lamb. The subject of the simple yet profound faith of the shepherds was very popular in the seventeenth century in all the Catholic countries in Europe; the Adoration of the Shepherds by Le Brun, also in the Louvre, is another fine example.
The scene as painted by Ribera is taking place by day, although other contemporary artists generally showed the scene at night.
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The radiant infant Jesus is lying in the straw of a manger, turning his head towards one of the shepherds come to worship.
Mary is kneeling behind him, her hands together in prayer, her eyes lifted to heaven.
Joseph is beside her, his hands crossed on his chest, looking down and contemplating the infant Jesus.
While one can recognize the work of the masters in the student's copies, Fragonard continually reveals his own style and personality. Comtesse de Bearn-Behague, Paris (began acquiring the drawings in 1894, sold 1927 to; Hon. All image requests, regardless of their intended purpose, should be submitted via email. Images may be protected by copyright and other intellectual property rights. Approved requests for the reproduction of an image will receive a contract detailing all fees and conditions of use of the image.
The signature also reflects Ribera's deep attachment to Spain, the land of his birth.
He left Spain for Rome, where he settled for some years, moving in the same circles as Caravaggio.
Its medium-size format indicates that originally this work probably decorated a private chapel in a palace or church.
Ribera painted it in Naples two years before his death, as the date, 1650, and signature show.