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Art/ Collection/ Art Object

The Three Magi, from an Adoration Group

Workshop of Hans Thoman (German, active Memmingen, ca. 1514–25)
ca. 1515–20
South German
Wood, gesso, paint, gilding
Melchior and Balthasar: 23 1/2 × 12 1/4 × 6 1/2 in. (59.7 × 31.1 × 16.5 cm) Gaspar: 22 1/2 × 9 1/4 × 5 1/4 in. (57.2 × 23.5 × 13.3 cm)
Credit Line:
Purchase, Joseph Pulitzer Bequest, 1951
Accession Number:
51.28a, b
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 305
The Metropolitan Museum of Art has possessed this sculpture of the Three Magi offering their gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh in its collection since 1951. The recent acquisition of the Virgin and Child has provided the Museum with the exceptional opportunity to reunite these sculptures, originally part of the large altarpiece dismantled in the early nineteenth century. Altarpieces depicting the Adoration of the Magi were widespread in Germany during the late Middle Ages, particularly following the city of Cologne’s acquisition of the Magi’s relics in 1164.
It has been proposed that the first two Magi, Melchoir and Balthazar, might depict the Hapsburg emperor Maximilian I and his son, Philip.
von Thiersch Family, Aeschach near Lindau; Friedrich von Thiersch ; Ernst T. Thiersch, Michigan (sold 1951)
Cologne. Museum Schnütgen. "Die Heiligen Drei Könige: Mythos, Kunst und Kult," October 25, 2014–January 25, 2015.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Eighty-Second Annual Report of the Trustees for the Year 1951." The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, n.s., 11, no. 1 (Summer 1952). p. 28.

Schädler, Alfred. "Das Werk des 'Meisters von Ottobeuren'." In Ottobeuren, 764-1964: Beiträge zur Geschichte der Abtei. Studien und Mitteilungen zur Geschichte des Benediktinerordens und seiner Zweige. Augsburg: Kommissionsverlag Winfried-Werk, 1964. p. 150, fig. 13a.

Schmidt, Gerhard. "Eine Bildhauerische Darstellung Kaiser Maximilians I. als Epiphaniekönig." Jahrbuch des Kunsthistorischen Museums Wien 4/5 (2002–2003). pp. 336-37, fig. 1, ill. p. 334.

Werd, Guido de. Henrik Douverman: Die Heiligen Drei Könige. Schriften des Museums Kurhaus Kleve, Vol. 34. Cleves: Museum Kurhaus Kleve, 2006. pp. 26–27, ill.

Polleross, Friedrich. "Tradition and Innovation: Emperor Maximilian and his Portraits." In Emperor Maximilian I and the Age of Dürer, edited by Eva Michel, and Maria Luise Sternath. Munich: Prestel, 2012. p. 111.

Beer, Manuela, and Moritz Woelk, ed. The Magi: Legend, Art and Cult. Munich: Hirmer Verlag, 2014. no. 117, pp. 20, 292-93.

Guillot de Suduiraut, Sophie. Dévotion et séduction: Sculptures souabes des musées de France, vers 1460-1530. Paris: Musée du Louvre, 2015. pp. 296, n. 19, 297.

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