At once narrative and symbolic, this elegant painting by Sandro Botticelli expands the conventional theme of the Adoration of the Christ Child. In the central scene, the gracefully arched bodies of Mary and Joseph echo the contours of the round picture format. The Virgin Mary kneels in veneration before the Christ Child, while Joseph sleeps. The infant lies stiffly on Mary’s cloak, parallel to the picture plane and presented to the devout viewer for adoration. Two shepherds at right approach to offer Christ a sacrificial lamb, and the Holy Family's subsequent Flight into Egypt is depicted in the background at left. Botticelli oversaw an active workshop, producing hundreds of paintings—especially devotional images of the Virgin and Child—over the course of his career. Very few of Botticelli's paintings are signed or dated, and it is often difficult to determine his authorship. Some scholars attribute this work entirely to Botticelli, but it may have been executed in part by his assistants.

Cataloguing data may change with further research.

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Alessandro Botticelli, Italian (Florentine), 1444/5–1510
The Adoration of the Christ Child
c. 1500
Oil on panel
Panel: 47 1/2 in. diameter (120.7 cm) Frame: 66 1/2 diameter × 3 3/4 in. (168.9 × 9.5 cm)
Credit Line

Sarah Campbell Blaffer Foundation, Houston

Current Location
The Audrey Jones Beck Building
Accession Number

Quincy A. Shaw, Boston; [Duveen Brothers, New York, c. 1922–1942]; Norton Simon Foundation, Pasadena, California; purchased by the Sarah Campbell Blaffer Foundation, 1974.