Shepherds Purse: painting - Portinari (Adoration)

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This is a painting by Hugo van der Goes, done in 1475-6 as part of the "Portinari altarpiece" and currently located in the Uffizi gallery in Florence and belongs to the "Adoration of the Shepherds" genre. This item is a testament to the difficulty in identifying a specific cultural provenence for any particular work of art. The painter's name suggests a Low Countries origin, but he was painting for an Italian patron.Does his work reflect what he knows from home? What he see around him as he paints? Neither? Is he working from models that don't reflect everyday reality at all?

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The shepherd to the rear has a drawstring pouch at his belt. The shepherd kneeling in front wears something that looks too deep (tall) to be a pouch-belt. There is possibly a fringe along with a series of metal rings at the upper edge, and a small 3-holed blowing horn depends from a wood hook on one of the rings. Another unidentifiable object hangs from one, possibly a knife.


Friedländer, Max. 1956. From Van Eyck to Bruegel. Phaidon Publishers Inc, New York. fig. 93

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