The National Museum of Art of Romania
El Greco - The Adoration of the Shepherds
Artwork description
Doménikos Theotokópoulos, called El Greco
(Crete, 1541 - Toledo, 1614)
Spanish school
Oil on canvas
364 x 137 cm
Inv. 8423/457
Artwork location
European Art Gallery, 2nd floor, room 5
Sign language video
Sign language video

The Adoration of the Shepherds was part of the high altar of the Dona María de Aragón colegiate church in Madrid on which El Greco had worked between 1596 and 1600. The artist had conceived a monumental structure consisting of 6 paintings and 6 sculptures which visually embodied the idea of the Incarnation of the Son of God, the subject of many theological debates in contemporary Spain. The altar was dismantled in the early 19th century, the other five paintings being now with the Prado Museum.

The Adoration of the Shepherds The scene is set at night. The lower part of the painting features the secular while the upper half represents the Divine world, angels singing songs of praise to the Lord. El Greco focuses on the moment when shepherds kneal in front of the infant Jesus, venerating Him. The white lamb, the gift they brought Him, foretells Christ’s sacrifice.

With a highly rhethorical gesture, the Virgin holds open Jesus’s white swaddling cloth revealing the miracle of the Incarnation. Clearly her gesture is not meant for the shepherds or the angels. Rather it answers the conversation in which Joseph and the elderly man next to him are deeply engrossed. Looking closer we notice the elderly man is present in all the three El Greco paintings in Bucharest. The master’s self portraits are statements as to the visual contribution his religious scenes made to theological debates in contemporary Spain.

See more works in the European Art Gallery

Romanian Modern Art Gallery

Romanian Modern Art Gallery

The Romanian Modern Art Gallery tells the story of Romanian art from the mid-nineteenth to the late twentieth century. Representative works by Theodor Aman, Nicolae Grigorescu, Ioan Andreescu, Theodor Pallady among others, illustrate connections with contemporary French painting while those of M.H. Maxy, Marcel Ianco, Victor Brauner trace the contribution of Romanian art to the European avant-garde of the 1920s and 1930s. Early sculptures by Brancusi reveal the master’s will to break away from academic tradition and find a way of his own. 

Places of our art and history

Places of our art and history

Tickets can be bought at the Ticket Office in the European Art Gallery and on www.booktes.com.
Ticket price at the entrance: 20 lei / pers. Ticket price online: 22 lei / pers.
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K.H. Zambaccian Museum

K.H. Zambaccian Museum

Art collector and critic Krikor H. Zambaccian (1889-1962) put together one of the richest and most valuable private collections in Romania. In the 1940s Zambaccian had the house purpose built so as to enable him to display the paintings, sculptures, prints and drawings and furniture he had acquired over more than half a century. Both the collection and the house were donated by him to the Romanian State in 1947.
In celebration of his deed, Zambaccian was made a member of the Romanian Academy.
The collector’s portfolio of Romanian artists offers a brief but dense overview of modern Romanian art, covering representative paintings by founding figures like Theodor Aman, Nicolae Grigorescu, Ioan Andreescu, classical modernists like Ștefan Luchian, Nicolae Tonitza, Theodor Pallady and Gheorghe Petrașcu, and post-war figurative painters like Corneliu Baba, Alexandru Phoebus and Horia Damian. Sculptures by Brâncuși, Milița Petrașcu, Oscar Han and Cornel Medrea reflect Zambaccian’s preference for a more traditional vein of modernism. To create a context for Romanian art and enhance his prestige, Zambaccian also acquired works by Cézanne, Picasso, Matisse, Bonnard, Utrillo, and Marquet, which lend his collection a profile unmatched in Romania.  

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