Adoration of the Magi

Object Details

Title:

Adoration of the Magi

Artist/Maker:

Andrea Mantegna (Italian (Paduan), about 1431 - 1506)

Culture:

Italian

Place:

Italy (Place created)

Date:

about 1495 - 1505

Medium:

Distemper on linen

Dimensions:

48.6 × 65.6 cm (19 1/8 × 25 13/16 in.)

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Three kings pay homage to the Christ Child, who in turn makes a sign of blessing. Jesus Christ, his mother the Virgin Mary, and Mary's husband Joseph have haloes and wear simple garments, while the Magi are dressed in exotic clothing and jewels and bear exquisite gifts. Caspar, bearded and bareheaded, presents the Christ Child with a rare Chinese cup, made of delicate porcelain and filled with gold coins. Melchior, the younger, bearded king behind Caspar, holds a Turkish censer for perfuming the air with incense; on the right, Balthasar the Moor carries a covered cup made of agate.

Andrea Mantegna's composition of figures and objects compressed within a shallow space was based on his study of ancient Roman reliefs. He used a neutral background and sharply defined details to focus the viewer's attention on the kings' adoration of Christ.

Provenance
by 1871 - 1903

Louisa Caroline Stewart-Mackenzie Baring, baroness Ashburton, 1827 - 1903 (Grange Park, Hampshire, England), by inheritance to her grandson, Spencer Douglas Compton, 1903.

1903 - 1915

Lord Spencer Douglas Compton, 1893 - 1915 (Castle Ashby, Northamptonshire, England), by inheritance to his elder brother, William Bingham Compton, 1915.

1915 - 1978

William Bingham Compton, sixth marquess of Northampton, 1885 - 1978 (Castle Ashby, Northamptonshire, England), by inheritance to his son, Spencer Douglas David Compton, 1978.

1978 - 1985

Spencer Douglas David Compton, seventh marquess of Northampton, born 1946 (Castle Ashby, Northamptonshire, England) [sold, Northampton sale, Christie's, London, April 18, 1985, lot 16, to the J. Paul Getty Museum.]

Exhibitions
Exhibition of the Works of the Old Masters (1871) (287)
  • Royal Academy of Arts (London), 1871
Exhibition of Venetian Art (1894 to 1895) (22)
  • New Gallery (London), 1894 to 1895
Exhibition of Italian Art 1200 - 1900 (1930) (184; (commemorative catalogue edited by Lord Balniel and Kenneth Clark, Oxford and London, 1931) vol. 1 p. 63 vol. 2 fig. 184)
  • Royal Academy of Arts (London), 1930
Splendours of the Gonzaga (November 4, 1981 to January 31, 1982) (32; (catalogue edited by David Chambers and Jane Martineau, entry by Caroline Elam, pp. 122 - 123))
  • Victoria and Albert Museum (London), November 4, 1981 to January 31, 1982
Andrea Mantegna (January 17 to July 12, 1992)
  • Royal Academy of Arts (London), January 17 to April 5, 1992
  • The Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York), April 28 to July 12, 1992
"La prima donna del mondo": Isabella d'Este, Fürstin und Mäzenatin der Renaissance (February 13 to May 24, 1994)
  • Kunsthistorisches Museum (Vienna), February 13 to May 24, 1994
Renaissance Venice and the North: Crosscurrents in the Time of Bellini, Durer and Titian (September 5, 1999 to January 9, 2000)
  • Palazzo Grassi (Venice), September 5, 1999 to January 9, 2000
Mantegna, 1431-1506 (September 26, 2008 to January 5, 2009) (181)
  • Musée du Louvre (Paris), September 26, 2008 to January 5, 2009
Botticelli to Titian: Two Centuries of Italian Masterpieces (October 28, 2009 to February 14, 2010)
  • Szépmüvészeti Múzeum (Budapest), October 28, 2009 to February 14, 2010
Ming: 50 Years that Changed China (September 18, 2014 to January 5, 2015) (263)
  • The British Museum (London), September 18, 2014 to January 5, 2015
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