In this painting, Nicolaes Maes almost exactly copied Albrecht Dürer's 1504 engraving of the Nativity. Maes simply widened the house to the left, provided new poses for the Virgin Mary and baby Jesus, and added the four shepherds that give the painting its new subject. The harmony of blacks, browns, and whites that he chose emphasizes the painting's print origin. He successfully used the fluid medium of oil paint to render such textures as the stable's wooden door, the exposed bricks, and the thatched roof.
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