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.