The Adoration of the Magi

Object Details


The Adoration of the Magi


Guillaume Courtois (French, 1628 - 1679)




about 1665


Red chalk heightened with white (partly oxidized), the outlines indented with the stylus

Object Number:



29.8 × 19.7 cm (11 3/4 × 7 3/4 in.)

See more

See less

Guillaume Courtois chose to set the private scene of the three Magi bringing gifts to the baby Jesus amidst excited onlookers. A typically varied Baroque crowd surrounds the calm, carefully composed central figures. Betraying his classicizing orientation, Courtois seated the Virgin on a fluted column and drew a Doric one behind the stable.

Courtois made this highly finished study for an engraving reproduced in a book printed in Rome in 1662. The missal book included engravings after drawings by leading contemporary painters working in Italy, mostly of New Testament subjects; copies are rare today. The indentations throughout the sheet indicate that someone used a stylus to trace the drawing before making the print.


John Bouverie, died 1750, Betchworth, Surrey


John Hervey, died 1764, Betchworth, Surrey


Christopher Hervey, died 1786


Elizabeth Bouverie, died 1798


first earl of Gainsborough, Exton Park, Leicestershire


fifth earl of Gainsborough, (by descent)

November 23, 1971

Christie's (London), lot 115 (as Ciro Ferri; Gainsborough sale)


Private Collection

January 11, 1994

Christie's (New York), lot 219


Yvonne Tan Bunzl

Red Chalk Drawings (March 16 to May 30, 1999)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), March 16 to May 30, 1999