[Image: Peter Paul Rubens. Adorazione dei pastori, 1608, Fermo, Pinacoteca Civica. Photo: Daniele Maiani.]
Milan’s Christmas gift to the city’s residents and visitors is a magnificent work of art to be admired for free. This annual tradition returns to Palazzo Marino starting December 3.
The painting changes every year: for 2015, it is Adoration of the Shepherds by Peter Paul Rubens, who worked on it for around three months in 1608. Commissioned for the Church of San Filippo Neri in Fermo (Marche), it is a large oil canvas which uses the chiaroscuro technique in the style of Caravaggio, who Rubens had gotten to know in Rome during his ten years of study in Italy.
The painting, displaying the first signs of Baroque style, features the Virgin Mary showing baby Jesus to the shepherds inside the Nativity stable, with four swirling angels holding up a scroll announcing Jesus's birth; St. Joseph is behind her, while two female and two male figures are on the left.
Rubens is one of the most famous Flemish painters of all time, and is considered a master of European Baroque art.
Adoration of the Shepherds was identified at the beginning of the 20th century by art historian Roberto Longhi. It is now housed at the Pinacoteca Civica in Fermo.
Palazzo Marino, where the painting will be on view, is a 16th-century palace located in Piazza della Scala, in the center of Milan. It has been Milan's city hall since 1861.
The painting will be on view inside the Sala Alessi starting tomorrow, until January 10, 2016. Every day, from 9:30 am until 8 pm (Thursdays open until 10:30 pm). Free entrance. Visitors will enter in small groups and will be welcomed by art historians who will guide them through the exhibition.