Adoration of the Magi

Italian, Milan

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 610

A Christian gospel recounts that three magi (also called wise men or kings) travelled from distant lands to worship the newborn Jesus Christ. In this relief, the three kings remove their headdresses in succession and progress from standing to kneeling, venerating the holy infant.

Framed like a painting, the relief challenges the pictorial limits of sculpture. The closest figures project with sharp focus, and those furthest away are shallow and blurred. In the distant mountain valley, a shepherd and his dog save their flock from a stalking wolf. These figures likely reference Christ the Savior, who compared himself to the good shepherd who lays down his life for his sheep.

Adoration of the Magi, Marble, Italian, Milan

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