Adoration of the Shepherds painting from 1695

Expand Your Sense of Wonder with a Mindful Look at a 17th-Century Painting

March 20, 2018

Mindful Looking invites you to spend a relaxed and focused 45 minutes with a single work of art. Together we carefully examine the artwork’s composition, details, and style, and then consider potential meanings. The benefits of slower processing are heightened awareness, expanded wonder, and stronger engagement of the mind. In Mindful Looking, we quiet the mind and visually wander through the artwork while listening more deeply in thoughtful conversation.

Many Stories in One Painting

In this month’s session, we’ll spend time together with the Adoration of the Shepherds by Mexican painter Nicolás Rodríguez Juárez. I was drawn to this piece because it seemed to hold many stories in one image. We’ll consider the painting from multiple perspectives–that of the holy parents, the adoring shepherds, the worshipper in Colonial Mexico City, the artist, and the contemporary viewer. I also found it particularly interesting that the artist was able to tell the story with skillful employ of light and shadow.

We’ll consider how light creates emphasis and clarity. The heavenly beams of light, haloed heads, and golden straw manager illuminate key moments from the Biblical account where the Christ child is visited by humble shepherds who come to worship him shortly after his birth. We’ll also talk about how Nicolas and his brother Juan were the third generation of artists from a highly prominent family dynasty of painters in Mexico. We’ll explore the guild system in art at that time and how stylistic influences were shared from generation to generation.

About the Artist

Nicolas Rodriguez Juarez (1667-1734) was a member of the most important family dynasty of painters active in Mexico City for over 100 years. Founded by Nicolas’s great grandfather Luis Juarez around 1600, the family included the famous artists Jose Juarez (Nicolas’s grandfather), Antonio Rodriguez (Nicolas’s father) and Juan Rodriguez Juarez (Nicolas’s brother), among others. The Mayer/DAM collection includes examples by the founding father Luis Juarez, by an apprentice of Jose Juarez, and several examples by Juan Rodriguez Juarez.

This painting of the Adoration of the Shepherds, signed by Nicolas Rodriguez Juarez, originally formed part of an altar screen or a triumphal arch for the entry of a new viceroy to Mexico City. The Rodriguez Juarez family participated in numerous such commissions.

Join Us

Come join us this month for a contemplative exploration and dynamic discussion as we appreciate and savor the rich details and dramatic perspectives of this painting.

Mindful Looking is included with general admission, free for members.

Image: Nicolas Rodriguez Juarez (Mexican, 1667-1734), Adoration of the Shepherds (detail), about 1695. Oil paint on canvas or panel. Gift of Frederick and Jan Mayer, 2009.763

Ann Lambson is the interpretive specialist for architecture, design, and graphics in the learning and engagement department at the Denver Art Museum. She has been with the DAM since 2015.