The Adoration of the Magi

Object Details

Title:

The Adoration of the Magi

Artist/Maker:

Guillaume Courtois (French, 1628 - 1679)

Culture:

French

Date:

about 1665

Medium:

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

Object Number:

95.GB.41

Dimensions:

29.8 × 19.7 cm (11 3/4 × 7 3/4 in.)

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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.

Provenance
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John Bouverie, died 1750, Betchworth, Surrey

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John Hervey, died 1764, Betchworth, Surrey

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Christopher Hervey, died 1786

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Elizabeth Bouverie, died 1798

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first earl of Gainsborough, Exton Park, Leicestershire

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fifth earl of Gainsborough, (by descent)

November 23, 1971

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

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Private Collection

January 11, 1994

Christie's (New York), lot 219

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Yvonne Tan Bunzl

Exhibitions
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