The Adoration of the Shepherds, Rembrandt Harmenz van Rijn
Etching and drypoint, roughly 6 x 8 inches (15 x 20 cm); in the collection of the Rijksmuseum. There is also a version on Google Art Project.
Here we see another example of Rembrandt’s uncanny mastery of the art of etching. His daring composition, in which the attending figures barely emerge from the darkness, is dramatic and subtle at the same time.
As with most etchings, this one exists as a number of versions from different states of the plate. The Rijksmuseum itself has at least two other prints, from the second state and the sixth state, in which Rembrandt has made the main figures darker and the light even more subtle.
I prefer this earlier version, though, because of the wonderful linear quality of the drawing of the mother and child.