The Adoration of the Magi

Object Details

Title:

The Adoration of the Magi

Artist/Maker(s):

Guillaume Courtois (French, 1628 - 1679)

Culture:

French

Date:

about 1665

Medium:

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

Dimensions:

29.8 x 19.7 cm (11 3/4 x 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

John Bouverie (d. 1750), Betchworth, Surrey

John Hervey (d. 1764), Betchworth, Surrey

Christopher Hervey (d. 1786)

Elizabeth Bouverie (d. 1798)

first Earl of Gainsborough, Exton Park, Leicestershire

fifth Earl of Gainsborough, (by descent)

Private Collection

Yvonne Tan Bunzl

November 23, 1971

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

January 11, 1994

Christie's (New York), lot 219

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, (Cat.)