Goltzius displayed his great virtuosity in his engraved Life of the Virgin published in the 1590s. In new compositions created especially for this series, he emulated the styles of earlier and much admired artists like Dürer and Lucas van Leyden. These imitative engravings were so convincing that they were at first thought to be previously unknown works by Dürer and Lucas. Other prints in this series evoked the work of illustrious Italian painters. The Adoration of the Shepherds is executed in the manner of the Italian painter Jacopo da Bassano who was known for his night scenes and ability to capture the effects of various sources of light—from candlelight to heavenly radiance.
Translation of Latin inscription:
See the creator of heaven, the lord of all things, the King of Gods and man, is born under the poor roof of a miserable hut, and He who is greater than the high ether, the sea, the earth, than all the structures of the great universe, lies inside in a manger.