Previous
The Adoration of the Magi
Enlarge (19MB) Zoom in
This image is available for download, without charge, under the Getty's Open Content Program.

Unknown
German, Würzburg, about 1240
Tempera colors and gold leaf on parchment
7 x 5 5/16 in.
MS. 4, LEAF 2

Add to Getty Bookmarks

The miniature of the Adoration of the Magi is a cutting from a sequence illustrating the story of Jesus' life in a thirteenth-century psalter. The artist illustrated the visit of the three wise men from the East to pay homage to the newborn Jesus, as told in the Gospel of Saint Matthew. The king at the center of the miniature points to the unseen star that guided their journey. Below, an elderly king presents a chalice to the baby Jesus. The chalice and the round object the Virgin Mary holds may allude to the wine and wafer of the Eucharist. In that sacrament, Jesus' blood and body are understood to be present in the wine and bread that are consecrated and shared. Rather than representing the Virgin and Child in the modest surroundings described in the Gospels, the artist emphasized the majesty of these holy figures. The Virgin is regally enthroned, crowned, and richly attired, while Jesus already has the features of a grown man and extends his right hand in blessing.

The stylized draperies with their intricate folds and the strong lines defining the figures' faces suggest some Byzantine influence.