Art sometimes seems to affect us in unpredictable ways. This Spanish Baroque nativity painting surprised me in a few ways.
First, I found the clarity of the facial expressions to be striking. Each person bears a completely different visage, portraying a wide range of emotions. In the upper left-hand corner, the head-wrapped individual is staring straight ahead, perhaps pondering the event. Beneath this one, a younger person glances upward in wonder (or perhaps glee). In the middle, a blissfully reverent Mary and her Baby are surrounded by three adoring attendees and a peacefully slumbering lamb, as Joseph stands guard quietly.
But I have to wonder: What is going on with the boy in the lower left-hand corner, kneeling next to his basket of eggs? He’s pointing at the Child and laughing. Is he overcome with joy, overtaking with holy laughter, or simply reveling in the sweet scene?
Adoration of the Shepherds, Francisco de Zurbaran, 1630
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