The Angel Appearing to the Shepherds

A work made of etching, engraving, and drypoint in black on ivory laid paper.
CC0 Public Domain Designation

Image actions

  • A work made of etching, engraving, and drypoint in black on ivory laid paper.

Date:

1634

Artist:

Rembrandt van Rijn
Dutch, 1606-1669

About this artwork

This nocturnal scene from the Gospel of Luke represents Rembrandt’s first attempt to render shadows in print with the same gravity and depth he achieved in oil paint. In the upper left, an angel stands before a glowing celestial vortex and announces the birth of Christ. At the center of the divine light is the dove of the Holy Spirit, defined by a few small marks. Terrified by the sudden blast in the night, herdsman and their beasts run amok.
To depict the stunning collision between heaven and earth, Rembrandt first scratched a detailed compositional outline with a sharp needle and etched lines. He then built a range of grays and deep blacks by crisscrossing layers of lines in varying widths. This fine netting of shadow echoes the spontaneity of the moment and differs from the rigidity and systematized decorative patterns seen in the work of predecessors such as Hendrik Goudt.

Currently Off View

Prints and Drawings

Artist

Rembrandt van Rijn

Title

The Angel Appearing to the Shepherds

Origin

Holland

Date

1634

Medium

Etching, engraving, and drypoint in black on ivory laid paper

Dimensions

259 x 218 mm (image/plate); 262 x 220 mm (sheet)

Credit Line

Clarence Buckingham Collection

Reference Number

1938.1737

Extended information about this artwork

Object information is a work in progress and may be updated as new research findings emerge. To help improve this record, please email .

Share

Sign up for our enewsletter to receive updates.

Learn more

Image actions

Share