In the foreground the Holy Family is adored by shepherds and shepherdesses, while in front of the roof of the stable are five cherubs.

The earlier moment in the story when the angel appears to the shepherds to announce the birth of Christ is depicted in the background. The picture is almost unique among Poussin's works for its extraordinary delicacy of execution and its immaculate preservation. The painting was probably executed when Poussin, though still influenced by the Venetians in his colouring, was moving towards that concentration and simplicity of style which characterise the classical paintings of the 1640s.


Sir Joshua Reynolds, Sir Thomas Beauchamp-Proctor, Mr Jocelyn Beauchamp; Sotheby's; private collection.

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