This work was made by the Italian painter Correggio (1489? – 1534), whose real name was Antonio Allegri, around the year 1530.
This artist developed much of his career in the city of Parma, in northern Italy, and at the time his innovative style was not as successful as the value that gave the following generations of Italian artists, for whom he was a very daring and progressive painter.
Correggio Christmas Eve
Given his establishment in Parma, it is unknown to what extent he knew the painting of artists such as Leonardo da Vinci or Raphael. It is speculated that he would mainly get to know his works through contact with his disciples installed in other cities of the northern Italy, and thanks to them he discovered his way of dealing with the effects of light and shadow, a field in which Correggio made outstanding advances in the History of Art, and as an example this work en titled La Nochebuena.
In it we see a shepherd who has just had a vision of open heaven in which angels appear singing. It is very interesting to observe this angelic choir in which the figures seem to dance and flutter among the clouds, at the same time that they look down where the Child Jesus was born.
The entire nativity scene is framed on the left by the long oblique line marked by the shepherd's staff.And among the dark ruins, the figure of Jesus bathed in light is discovered. Rather, he is the focus of that light and radiates it to his surroundings, especially to the bust and face of his mother, the Virgin Mary. A woman whose expression above all conveys happiness.
The pastor on the left is like repressing his movement and touches his head looking for his hat. Actually, the gesture is before taking it off to kneel and worship the newborn.
That is, it would be like the typical representation of the Adoration of the Shepherds so represented throughout the history of Christian religious painting. But Correggio introduces some variants, like the two maidens seen in the composition. One of them completely dazzled by the light emanating from the Child, and the other turned towards the shepherd whom she looks at in ecstasy after contemplating Jesus, a face that we see totally illuminated by the light that comes out of the manger. While the father, San José, is discovered in the back area, in the shadows, taking care of the donkey.
The entire composition seems spontaneous, which is helped by the crowding of characters on the left side, which causes a certain imbalance. However, the balance between the two halves of the painting is gained by the abundance of light coming from the right, which gives the representations of Mary and Jesus much more volume.
That is the great achievement of this work, in which we first lose sight of the shepherd, whose figure leads us to see what he is seeing at that moment: the miracle of Light, whatwhich refers to the story that is narrated in the Gospel of Saint John.