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Adoration of the Magi from a Book of Hours

Adoration of the Magi from a Book of Hours
Anonymous, Netherlandish
Adoration of the Magi from a Book of Hours
ca. 1480
Ink, pigments, and gold leaf on parchment
(2003.1)
Gilbreath-McLorn Museum Fund

The Adoration of the Magi was one of eight traditional images included in the Books of Hours to illustrate the Hours of the Virgin. The Hours are typically illustrated as follows: Annunciation (Matins), Visitation (Lauds), Nativity (Prime), Annunciation to the Shepherds (Terce), Adoration of the Magi (Sext), Presentation in the Temple (None), Flight into Egypt (Vespers), and the Coronation of the Virgin (Compline). In this richly illuminated page of the Adoration of the Magi, the first king kneels down before the Virgin and child, having respectfully removed his crown. Jesus sits on his mother’s lap, tenderly holding this wise man’s hand. Inside the stable, Joseph grasps the kneeling king’s gift. A “heavenly” Gothic architectural canopy, gilded and decorated with two smiling lions, surmounts the whole scene. In the distance,a walled medieval city dominates the landscape. A man on horseback approaches the city’s gate, and the gilded star of Bethlehem shines in the lapis blue sky.

Stylistically the manuscript can be connected with other miniature paintings produced in Delft, ca. 1480, by a small circle of artists known as the “Master of the Half Figures.” The high quality of the miniature and the lavish use of gold and lapis blue indicate that a wealthy patron commissioned the manuscript.

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