As if at the centre of an explosion, the Angel of the Annunciation appears to the shepherds and their flocks on Christmas night. Panic breaks out, leading him to begin his tidings with the words “Fear not”. With this early “nocturne”, Rembrandt was demonstrating his mastery in the etching technique. He created a tonal spectrum displaying a myriad of finely orchestrated nuances between the deepest black and the most brilliant brightness; here etching is intended to attain the capabilities of painting. Beyond a body of water, the palely moonlit landscape in the background provides a setting for a group of shepherds at a campfire – that is to say the situation as it was in the foreground just a moment ago, before the angel’s appearance.