Adoration of the Shepherds

Artist: Francesco di Marco Marmitta da Parma (Emilian, 1457–1505)

Date: ca. 1500

Medium: Tempera and gold on parchment

Dimensions: 9 5/8 x 6 in. (24.4 x 15.2 cm)

Classification: Manuscripts and Illuminations

Credit Line: Robert Lehman Collection, 1975

Accession Number: 1975.1.2491


Essentially a small painting on parchment, this image appears to have been created as an independent object for private devotion. According to a letter of 1591 formerly pasted onto its reverse, which refers to it as a "tablet," the miniature once belonged to the Medici pope Clement VII (r. 1523–34) and in 1591 was given as a gift by Pope Gregory XIV to Christine of Lorrain, grand duchess of Tuscany. As stated in the letter, she would be granted plenary indulgence for her sins every time she prayed before the image "for the Salvation of the Christian religion and the Church, in the struggle against heresy." The work is among the rare surviving masterpieces by Francesco Marmitta da Parma, who was active as a goldsmith, engraver of gems, painter, and illuminator.