Antoni Gaudí, Adoration of the Shepherds

First quarter of the 20th century
Stone
Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família, Barcelona
Detail of the Nativity Portal

In this modern work Gaudí harks back to medieval iconography with respect to the shepherds. Their clothing and possessions emphasize their humble status (compare Bartolo di Fredi's Adoration of the Shepherds, 14th cent.) while the lamb and breadbasket point subtly toward the sacrifice of the "Lamb of God" in the crucifixion and in the sacrifice of the Christian Mass (where the body of Christ is offered and consumed in the form of bread and wine). But the artist is decidedly unmedieval in giving the shepherds dignified physiognomies and an attitude of rapt adoration, which contrast with the class-conscious medieval tendency to portray them with crude faces and, where emotion is suggested at all, a childish delight. (See, for example, the 15th century Burgundian limestone Nativity at the Metropolitan Museum.)

More of the Nativity

Photographed at the church by Richard Stracke, shared under Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license.