The Adoration of the Magi

Giovanni Battista Tiepolo Italian

Not on view

Tiepolo’s compositional ingenuity is apparent everywhere in this oil sketch: the crowded space compressed between the ruins of a triumphal arch, column, and fallen cornice; the impossibly thin and towering ladder; the aggressively foreshortened cow at lower right, and the red-turbaned king’s elbow that juts out towards the viewer. Tiepolo varied the skin tones of the three magi, or wise men, and their pages to contrast with those of the Holy Family and underscore their arrival from distant lands. While probably made in preparation for an altarpiece, the sketch, with its animated paint handling, appealed to collectors in its own right.

The Adoration of the Magi, Giovanni Battista Tiepolo (Italian, Venice 1696–1770 Madrid), Oil on canvas

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