Photograph: Joaquim Real
© Museu-Biblioteca da Casa de Bragança

Add to My Collection

Related content
Timeline for this item

On display in the Exhibition(s)
Reformation and Counter-Reformation | A persuasive language for religious art

Name of Object:
Infant Jesus as the Good Shepherd
Date of Object:
17th century
Unknown artist
Type of object:
Holding Museum:
Museum and Library of the House of Braganza
Vila Viçosa, District of Evora, Portugal
Museum Inventory Number:
PDVV 7229
Material(s) / Technique(s):
Carved ivory with remnants of polychrome painting
Place of production:
Goa (?)
H: 72.5 cm; w: 20.5 cm; d: 16 cm
Workshop / Movement:
The ivory carved Indo-Portuguese representation of the Infant Jesus as the Good Shepherd is unique, blending the religious traditions of East and West. Carved in India from a single piece of ivory for a Portuguese patron, it features the Infant Jesus as Good Shepherd, a theme favoured by the Portuguese Empire, and handled here in a peculiar way, far from traditional iconographic models.
The Infant Jesus sits on a three-tiered rocky mountain, each level of which contains a carved “grotto” within which is a scene from the Life of Christ; from bottom to top are the Adoration of the Shepherds, the Adoration of the Magi and the Baptism. Water cascades down onto the lower scenes.
At the top, the Holy Trinity is framed by a tall fan-shaped Tree of Jesse, which acts as a backdrop to the entire piece. Below, the seated Infant Jesus plays an instrument similar to a mandolin. God the Father crowns the composition; wearing a triple-crown tiara with a cross He holds His crucified Son. Grapevines – from which heavy bunches of grapes hang – form the shape of a cross, symbolising the Eucharist, the wine from the grapes turning into the blood of Christ. The Holy Spirit is depicted as a dove flying above the Crucified Christ emblazoned on God's chest.
St. Ignatius Loyola and St. Francis Xavier, founders of the Society of Jesus, flank the central niches of the two upper levels, where there are other saints and scenes from the Life of Christ: the Annunciation, Circumcision and Flight into Egypt. Artworks such as this were intended to reinforce the catechizing strategic mission of the Portuguese Church, framed by the principles of the Counter-Reformation.
View Short Description
Current Owner:
Fundação da Casa de Bragança
Original Owner:
Joaquim Horta Correia
How date and origin were established:
Stylistic analysis.
How Object was obtained:
Acquired in 2007.
Selected bibliography:
De Goa a Lisboa, catalogue, “Europália 91”, Portugal–Brussels, 1991.
Encompassing the Globe, catalogue, (ed. Jay A. Levenson) Smithsonian Institute, Washington, 2007.
Citation of this web page:
Maria de Jesus Monge, Cristina Correia "Infant Jesus as the Good Shepherd" in "Discover Baroque Art", Museum With No Frontiers, 2016.;BAR;pt;Mus11_A;1;en
Prepared by: Maria de Jesus Monge, Cristina Correia
Translation by: Cristina Correia, Manuel Silva Pereira
Translation copyedited by: Mandi Gomez
MWNF Working Number: PT 01