Or are you looking for Search the Archives?

Please complete the form to email this item.

Adoration of the Magi

  • Object:

    Triptych

  • Place of origin:

    Mechelen (possibly, made)
    Brussels (possibly, made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1500 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Carved oak, painted and gilded, with gilded lead tracery and tin rosettes, glass beads and stamped paper backgrounds

  • Museum number:

    3264-1856

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This altarpiece is dedicated to the Adoration of the Magi. These are the three wise men or kings who came to Bethlehem when Jesus was born.The scene is presented on a raised plinth decorated with five lead stars. The eldest king kneels in the centre and presents the Christ Child with a covered cap. He is traditionally identified as Caspar. His hat lies on the floor in front of the Virgin. On the left wing the second king Melchior is shown holding his hat in his right hand and a covered goblet in his left. On the right the third king, Balthasar, holds a gold ciborium (a type of vessel) in both hands Two pairs of small holes in the back board show the position of details that are now missing. These may have been a lamp and a flask.

Physical description

triptych of wood with figures and ornaments of cast lead. The altarpiece is dedicated to the Adoration of the Magi. In the centre under the gabled canopy of the stable, the kneeling eldest king - traditionally identified as Caspar - presents the Christ Child with a covered cup. His hat lies on the floor in front of the Virgin, and two pairs of small holes in the back board indicate the position of now-missing domestic fixtures. On the right St. Joseph, wearing thick-soled clogs, holds a staff in his left hand and raises his left hand to his head to pull back his hood. The scene is presented on a raised plinth decorated with five lead stars. On the left wing Melchior is shown holding his hat in his right hand and a covered goblet in his left, and on the right Balthasar holds a gold ciborium in both hands. The two flanking figures both stand on distinctive trilateral pedestals.

Place of Origin

Mechelen (possibly, made)
Brussels (possibly, made)

Date

ca. 1500 (made)

Artist/maker

Unknown

Materials and Techniques

Carved oak, painted and gilded, with gilded lead tracery and tin rosettes, glass beads and stamped paper backgrounds

Dimensions

Height: 23.5 cm, Width: 29.5 cm open

Historical context note

Small portable altarpieces of this type were apparently made for private, domestic use. An object of this sort, with its elad ornaments stamped from a mould, would have been mass-produced and was probably intended for sale to a professional or merchant-class, rather than aristocratic customer.

Descriptive line

Wood polychrome Flemish 15th cent

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Williamson, Paul, Netherlandish Sculpture 1450-1550. London: Victoria and Albert Museum, 2002. 160p., ill. ISBN 1851773738.
Inventory of Art Objects Acquired in the Year 1856. In: Inventory of the Objects in the Art Division of the Museum at South Kensington, Arranged According to the Dates of their Acquisition. Vol I. London: Printed by George E. Eyre and William Spottiswoode for H.M.S.O., 1868, p. 58.

Materials

Oak; Tin; Lead; Glass; Paper

Techniques

Carving; Painting; Gilding; Stamping

Subjects depicted

Christianity; Stars; Cup; Rosettes; Goblet; Tracery; Hat; Staff; Ciborium

Categories

Sculpture; Religion; Christianity; Black History

Collection

Sculpture Collection

Large image request

Please confirm you are using these images within the following terms and conditions, by acknowledging each of the following key points:

Please let us know how you intend to use the images you will be downloading.

  • Copyright: © Victoria and Albert Museum, London 2017. All Rights Reserved