Adoration of the Shepherds, ca. 1480, by Hugo van der Goes. "Through an opening in the wall in the right background one has a glimpse of the shepherds in the fields, receiving the glad news. On the left side of the picture, two of them rush in, baring their heads as they enter. The entire scene is revealed to the observer by two prophets in the foreground, who draw the curtains back and create the illusion of 'unveiling' it."
Adoration of the Shepherds, 1482-85, by Domenico Ghirlandaio. According to Vasari, Ghirlandaio "painted in tempera, as a companion to this work, a Nativity of Christ which must excite the wonder of every thinking man, introducing his own portrait and some heads of shepherds, which are considered divine."
I discovered this Book of Hours a long time ago, during my earliest years on the Internet. It belongs to the Royal Library of the Netherlands. It might not look all that special but I've always loved this illustration of the Descent of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost.
Today is December 1st. I'd like to try posting one Advent work for each day until Christmas. To start off, here is The Numbering at Bethlehem, 1566, by Pieter Breughel the Elder. This painting shows Joseph and Mary arriving in Bethlehem where their child will be born. They are at the bottom of the painting, near the center. The arrival in Bethlehem is an usual subject and this painting is probably the best-known on this theme.
A second work, titled Census at Bethlehem, c. 1605, is very similar and is by the Workshop of Pieter Breughel the Younger.
The existence of these two paintings with such similar titles and subjects, both painted in the same year, suggests a story behind them. A contest of some kind perhaps? or just a competitive feeling between the two artists? It would be interesting to know more.
Tonight I was looking for the word 'bagpipe' at Google Art, and came across this Nativity in an illuminated manuscript by Don Silvestro dei Gherarducci, c. 1395. Take a close look - it's pretty special.
Days later: The Metropolitan Museum of Art has another leaf by the same artist.
I put just the simple word autumn into the search window at Google Art and it returned so many and such wonderful works on that subject that it brought tears to my eyes. Altogether there are more than 600 works and many, many of them are wonderful.
Google Art Project currently has 20 or so paintings by Hans Holbein the Younger on display. Very handsome works. Many of these works are quite wonderful but you might need to zoom in to see just how much. Try the portrait of Jane Seymour, Queen of England and one of Henry VIII's ill-fated wives. Jane was not a terribly attractive woman but the painting, seen up-close, is simply marvelous.
The Google Art Project offers terrific resolution on most of the thousands of works now displayed at its site. There are 164 works, though, that are rendered in 'gigapixels,' the Project's highest level of resolution. Feast your eyes!