Adoration of the Magi

Object Details


Adoration of the Magi


Defendente Ferrari (Italian, active about 1500 - 1535)




about 1520


Oil on panel


262.3 x 186.1 cm (103 1/4 x 73 1/4 in.)

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In this altarpiece, whose top was originally curved, the kings kneel at Christ's feet and their entourage gathers around, symbolizing the three continents--Asia, Europe, and Africa--to which Christianity would soon spread. The Adoration of the Magi story allowed artists to depict the kings' wondrous gifts and exotic splendor, making it a favorite subject for altarpieces in the 1400s and 1500s.

Following the Netherlandish tradition, Defendente Ferrari painted minute details, jewel-like color, and distinct physical types. The angular style, richly embroidered draperies, and specific faces show his familiarity with the practices of Rogier van der Weyden and southern France.


Possibly Marchesi Carron di San Tommaso (Castello Sommariva Perno, Piedmont, Italy), possibly to Vittorio Emanuele II.

- possibly by 1870

Possibly Vittorio Emanuele II, Italian, 1820 - 1878 (Castello Sommariva Perno, Piedmont, Italy), possibly given to Giovanni Antonio Luigi Cibrario, by 1870.

- 1870

Possibly Count Giovanni Antonio Luigi Cibrario, 1802 - 1870 (Turin, Italy), by inheritance to his son, Ippolito Cibrario, 1870.

1870 - 1917

Count Ippolito Cibrario, died 1917 (Turin, Italy)

by 1924 - still in 1930

Private Collection (possibly Alessandro Contini-Bonacossi) (Rome, Italy)

by 1937 - 1955

Count Alessandro Contini-Bonacossi, Italian, 1878 - 1955 (Florence, Italy; Rome, Italy), by inheritance within the Contini-Boncossi family, 1955.

1955 - 1974

Contini-Bonacossi Family (Florence, Italy; Rome, Italy), sold through Stanley Moss (Riverdale-on-Hudson, New York) to the J. Paul Getty Museum, 1974.

Esposizione d'arte antica (1880) (Cat. 145)
Gotico e Rinascimento in Piemonte (1939) (Cat. 1)
  • Palazzo Carignano, (Turin), 1939

Fredericksen, Burton B., et al. The J. Paul Getty Museum Guidebook. 5th ed. (Malibu: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1980), p. 71.

Jaffé, David. Summary Catalogue of European Paintings in the J. Paul Getty Museum (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1997), p. 41, ill.