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The Adoration of the Shepherds - El Greco. 319 x 180 cm.
The painting “Adoration of the Magi” was painted specifically for the altar of the church in Toledo. Many painters before and after resorted to this topic, but only the great Spaniard got a very mysterious, magical embodiment of the gospel text.
Elongated, disproportionate figures, a complex layout of the composition are complemented by a magical play of light. The painter has always experimented with color and light, but it is the work presented, one of the last in the artist’s biography, that shows the highest mastery of plot development through masterfully placed accents with light spots.
Magical light pulls out two groups from the dark space of the cave: in the lower part there are people - a baby with Virgin Mary and the shepherds, and in the upper half we see cherubs and angels, which testify to the high divine destiny of the newborn. El Greco emphasizes the same idea with color, making the image of Christ the brightest bright spot.
Looking at Jesus, the viewer suddenly realizes that it is from the manger that this magical light emanates, which is enough to illuminate the cave and all the characters. There is no doubt that El Greco was a deeply religious person! You can see how mournful the faces of the angels hovering over Christ - they know what is destined for him by fate: it is painful to die in the name of the Salvation of mankind.
There is information that one of the students of El Greco claimed that the master also depicted himself on the canvas, in the face of a shepherd in a red robe, kneeling.
Deep shadows laying on the walls, bright light, dark background - all this erases the differences between the earthly and heavenly world, turning the biblical scene into a kind of vision, a sacred dream.