Art enigma revealed in "The Adoration of the Shepherds" by Peter Paul Rubens

14 December, 2015 0 comments Leave a comment

Dear friends,
this is an enigma with a hidden story. Why this one? Because it is not what it seems. It’s an art enigma with a hidden story. Here are two questions for you:

  1. Why is the old lady showing her hands to Mary, and she is not looking the baby Jesus?
  2. Why is the shepherd in red not looking but only pointing at baby Jesus?


Guerrino Lovato tells that this picture is representing a lost story about Salomé, the disbelieving midwife from the Gospel of Saint Jacob.  The old midwife could not believe that Mary was giving birth to a child without losing her virginity, so she checked by herself. Right after that her hands turned all stiff and she couldn’t move them anymore. Desperate and aware of the fact that she had made a mistake by disbelieving, she asked the Madonna: “What am I going to do now with these useless hands?” The Madonna answered: “Touch the new born Jesus and you will see your hands healing”. Salomè touched Jesus and she healed. Thanks to the miracle, she had faith. On the other hand, the shepherd in red wonders too much and asks to the elder one on the left: “Is he really the son of God?”.  He becomes a believer only after it is explained to him. So now you can think about this painting in a new way. It’s not about blessing but all about believing. This is the last time that this tale appears in the story of art and then it vanishes forever.

We are pleased to send our best wishes with this painting by Rubens (1608), now exhibited at Palazzo Marino in Milano. Happy Christmas from Maskedart!

Enjoy the video about the disbelieving midwife


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