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The Adoration of the Magi
about 1030 - 1040
Tempera colors, gold leaf, and ink on parchment
Leaf: 23.2 x 16 cm (9 1/8 x 6 5/16 in.)
The Adoration of the Magi from this Regensburg benedictional introduces the feast of Epiphany on January 6. This holiday commemorates the visit of the three wise men from the East to the newborn Jesus. On one side the three Magi stand against a gold ground, offering their gifts in containers that may have been meant to allude to the future consecration of wine and bread in the Eucharist. Above their heads hovers the star that guided them to Jesus, drawn in red on the gold ground. On the other side of the central column, a large and monumental Virgin seated on a throne welcomes the visitors with a gesture of blessing while holding Jesus on her lap. He looks more adult than childlike as he also makes the sign of blessing. By using a restrained palette of blue, rose, green, and burnished gold, the artist imbued this scene with a calm harmony, complementing the monumentality of the balanced composition. Through all these choices, the artist expressed the majesty of the sacred figures. The Ottonian innovation of representing the wise men as kings quickly became the common depiction.
Illuminated Liturgical Manuscripts (January 22 to March 30, 1986)
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Early Medieval and Romanesque Manuscripts (July 19 to October 10, 1993)
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Masterpieces of Medieval and Renaissance Manuscript illumination (December 16, 1997 to March 22, 1998)
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Five Hundred Years of Manuscript Illumination (February 11 to June 1, 2003)
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Shrine and Shroud: Textiles in Illuminated Manuscripts (June 28 to October 2, 2005)
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