The J. Paul Getty Museum

The Adoration of the Magi

Object Details


The Adoration of the Magi


Georges Trubert (French, active Provence, France 1469 - 1508)




Provence, France (Place Created)


about 1480 - 1490


Tempera colors, gold leaf, gold and silver paint, and ink on parchment

Object Number:

Ms. 48 (93.ML.6), fol. 59


Leaf: 11.4 × 8.6 cm (4 1/2 × 3 3/8 in.)

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Object Description

In this miniature, the three wise men who followed the star of Bethlehem from the east pay homage to Christ. In the Middle Ages, artists and authors traditionally represented the wise men as kings with individual names and characteristics. Caspar, the oldest, kneels before the Virgin and Child and offers a gift of gold, while Melchoir, the youngest, points out the star to Balthazar, represented as a black man following late medieval custom.

Each of the gifts offered to Christ had symbolic value in the Middle Ages: gold in homage to Christ's kingship; frankincense, an oil used in worship in ancient times, in honor of his divinity; and myrrh, used in embalming, foreshadowing his death. In the later Middle Ages, the Magi often personified the three parts of the known world (Africa, Asia, and Europe); their facial features and dress in this miniature suggest this interpretation.

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  • The J. Paul Getty Museum (Malibu), April 23 to July 7, 1996
Outcasts: Prejudice and Persecution in the Medieval World (January 30 to April 8, 2018)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), January 30 to April 8, 2018