Friday, January 06, 2006


Middle panel of a triptych The Adoration of the Magi; c. 1560; Oil (?) on panel, 167.5 x 179 cm; Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

The baby Jesus is sitting on the lap of his mother, the Virgin Mary. He is holding his hand up in a blessing. Before him kneels a king offering a gift of gold. This is Melchior, the oldest of the three kings who came to pay homage to the infant Christ. Behind Mary, in a red gown is her husband Joseph. According to tradition, Jesus was born in a stable. The donkey, the ox and the shabby straw roof remind us of this. The scene takes place against the background of a ruined palace with marble columns and steps. This refers to King David, a distant ancestor of Jesus. The ruin is symbolic and represents the old world: Jesus represents the new, Christian world.

Pieter Aertsen painted this large, colourful panel in around 1560. It is a varied scene with many attractive details such as the rather homely basket of clothes beside Mary and the king's entourage with camels on the left of the background.


  1. That's a wonderful painting; thank you!

  2. It's new favorite of mine, too.

    We were able to go to Mass today, and imagine my joy when I realized the largest stained-glass in the chapel was a German artist's Adoration of the Magi from 1910! Art is such a powerful thing...

  3. :^) (Is there anything else to say?)

  4. Okay, probably. It is always a lot of fun when you put stuff like this up on the page! Even if it isn't your own writing, or doing, it gives joy to appreciate what you do. Make sense? Probably not . . . maybe I should just stick with -


  5. That one is pretty. I've seen a lot of stuff like that but nothing to equal this particular painting. Nice choice!