Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Adoration of the Magi

Imitator of Netherlandish (Antwerp Mannerist) Painter
probably seventeenth century
Oil on oak panel
Arched top: 9 1/16 x 5 9/16 in. (23 x 14.2 cm)
Credit Line:
Robert Lehman Collection, 1975
Accession Number:
Not on view
This small panel is framed as the center of a triptych with a prayer to the Virgin inscribed on the interior of its wings. The figures and architectural setting recall the paintings of the Antwerp Mannerists, who popularized the theme of the Adoration of the Magi at the beginning of the sixteenth century, but the way the motifs are combined indicates that this work is of more recent origin. Also indicating a later provenance is the presence of pigments that do not appear in paintings until the seventeenth century. The Lehman panel incorporates elements from several widely disseminated compositions from the Antwerp group. Among these are the orientation and elaborate costume of the aged, kneeling magus, the pose of the black magus, the details of costume and accessories throughout the composition, and the architecture of the ruined palace, which was an especially common motif of the Mannerist repertoire. Given the frequent sharing of patterns within the Antwerp mannerist group, it is possible that the painter of this panel copied an untraced Adoration in which these elements had already been combined, attesting to the enduring popularity and marketability of the earlier legacy.
Inscription: Inscribed (on wings): MARIA · MATER · GRACIÆ MATER MISERICORDIE · TV · NOS AB HOSTE PROTEGE IN HORA MORTIS SVSCIPE · [Mary, Mother of Grace, protect us from the evil one and deliver us in the hour of our death. (possibly from a hymn to the Virgin)]
Robert Lehman, New York.
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