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23. Angels Awaken a Pastoral Scene

Dutch painter and print-maker Abraham Bloemaert captured the Bethlehem shepherds in this treasured painting, right in the moment when an angel of the Lord arrived to bring the joyous news of Christ’s birth. Some shepherds still slumber, and a few seem to be continuing their own business. But several are looking up, ready to receive the sweet supernatural message.

On the left-hand side, tucked along the edge of the painting, one can barely make out the nativity scene. At least, it appears to be that depiction. Frankly, I find it hard to tell. The artist’s focus is clearly on the angelic appearance to the shepherds on the hillside.

I love the way the light in this artwork seems to emanate from the angel, illuminating the night scene from there. The sheep are bathed in this warm, making the whole area seem friendly and peaceful, even though the Bible says the shepherds were “sore afraid” (see Luke 2:9).

Announcement to the Shepherds, by Abraham Bloemaert, c1600

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