Adoration of the Magi 25.0123
The subject of the adoration of the magi after Christ's birth, found in Matthew 2, was a popular one for Renaissance artists. It provided a standard cast of characters, an opportunity for the artist to display his talent at drapery painting and the fine skills necessary for painting brocade and embroidery, and also the opportunity to paint landscape. This unknown 16th-century artist has used a traditional triangular composition and has painted the magi in clothing worn at court in the 16th century. It was customary to fashion the likeness of one of the magi after the likeness of the donor or artist's patron, which may account for the singularity with which the center figure is placed and painted. Joseph, Mary, and the infant Christ, who has raised his hand in greeting, face the three magi, arranged left to right, oldest to youngest. They present gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh in elaborate examples of goldsmith's work of the 16th century. The figures are set amidst the ruins of a gothic church, symbolic of the end of the Old Testament, instead of a lowly dwelling in Bethlehem as was usual in earlier representations of this subject. The figures are also placed in front of an extensive Alpine landscape, which was very typical for northern Renaissance artists.
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