Adoration of the Shepherds

Adoration of the Shepherds

1600s or early 1700s
unknown artist
Cuzco, Peru
Oil paint and gold on canvas
Accession Number
Credit Line
Gift of Frank Barrows Freyer II for the Frank Barrows Freyer Collection

Unknown artist, Adoration of the Shepherds, 1600s or early 1700s. Oil paint and gold on canvas; 54 × 42 in. Gift of Frank Barrows Freyer II for the Frank Barrows Freyer Collection at the Denver Art Museum, 1969.356.

height: 54 in, 137.1600 cm; width: 42 in, 106.6800 cm
Mayer Center, Latin American Art
Latin American Art

In the shadow of a manger, the Christ Child is adored by a group of shepherds who present offerings of a basket of eggs and a hen or game bird, in stark contrast to the luxurious and exotic gifts presented by the three magi at their visit. The shepherds are accompanied by the traditional ox and ass who observe the scene, along with a sheep at the bottom of the frame, underscoring the humility of Christ’s birth. The Christ Child lies on a bed of cloth and wheat, the delicate sheaves outlined in gold, a reference to the Eucharist. Behind him are the Virgin Mary, who cradles him gently, and St. Joseph, who looks on from behind her, holding a lily.

Above the scene, an angel in the heavens holds a banderole reading “Gloria in excelsis Deo” or “Glory to God in the highest.” In the landscape, visible at right, shepherds tend their flocks. The pink-tinged clouds and blue skies contrast with the darker palette of the manger and the garments of the figures in it.

– Kathryn Santner, Frederick and Jan Mayer Fellow of Spanish Colonial Art, 2022

Known Provenance
Gifted 24 October 1969 by Frank Barrows Freyer II [1916-1981], Denver, CO to the Denver Art Museum. Provenance research is on-going at the Denver Art Museum. Please e-mail, if you have questions, or if you have additional information to share with us.
Exhibition History
  • "Loan Exhibition of Latin American and Pre-Columbian Art, "Institute of Latin American Studies, University of Michigan, July 7-25, 1939
  • "Three Southern Neighbors - Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia," Newark Museum, April 14-December 31, 1942
  • "The Frank Barrows Freyer Collection of Spanish-Peruvian Paintings," Lowe Art Gallery, University of Miami, November 14, 1961-January 28, 1962
  • "Treasures from Peru: Spanish Colonial Paintings from the School of Cuzco," Columbus Gallery of Fine Arts, 1967
  • "The Frank Barrows Freyer Collection of Spanish Peruvian Paintings in the Denver Art Museum," The High Museum of Art, December 7-29, 1969.