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The Adoration of the Christ Child (work of art)

Artwork Info

circa 1506
7 1/2 x 6 3/8 inches (19.1 x 16.2 centimeters)


Gift of the Samuel H. Kress Foundation

Object Number
European Italian
European to 1910

Key Ideas about this Work of Art

  • Humanism is an attitude that focuses on human interests over religion. This attitude was popular during Titian’s lifetime, and he often represented humanist values in his paintings. Even though this is a biblical scene, none of the figures are depicted wearing a halo. This artistic choice makes the figures look more like ordinary people than divine beings.
  • The Renaissance was an era beginning in 14th-century Italy. It is characterized by a renewed interest in ancient Greek and Roman culture. The period lasted over 300 years. Many well-known artists lived during this time, including Leonardo da Vinci and Raphael.
  • Titian was an Italian painter during the 16th century. He is best known for his delicate use of color. He lived in Venice, which was a major hub for art and culture during the Renaissance.

Learn More

This panel is one of the earliest paintings ascribed by most Titian scholars to Titian. The subject derives from a mystical vision of the Nativity of Christ by Bridget of Sweden (1303–77), an influential nun who recounted seeing the infant Jesus “lying on the earth, naked and glowing in the greatest of neatness.” Titian accordingly depicted Christ’s body as emitting enough light to cause Joseph’s yellow cloak to glow.

The thick brushstrokes and complex layering of colors—remarkable in a panel of this size—were to become hallmarks of the mature Titian, regarded as one of the great colorists in the history of art.

Additional Resources

Resources for Teachers

  • Read an essay about Titian’s life and work.
  • Watch a video about the artist’s early years in Venice. 
  • Read an essay about depictions of Jesus’s life during the Middle Ages and Renaissance.


Resources for Students


  • An oil painting of the baby Jesus and his parents in an outdoor setting. The sky is blue, and hazy mountains line the horizon. There is a barn in the background. Mary is dressed in a blue robe and kneels, with her hands held in prayer. Joseph is dressed in a yellow robe. The faces of a cow and a donkey are depicted on the far left side of the scene. Mary, Joseph, and the animals gaze down at the child.

    The Adoration of the Christ Child