The Presentation in the Temple
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Simon Bening
Flemish, Bruges, about 1525 - 1530
Tempera colors, gold paint, gold leaf, and ink on parchment
6 5/8 x 4 1/2 in.

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Joseph and Mary bring the infant Jesus into the entryway of the Temple, where Simeon, a devout priest of Jerusalem, reaches out to accept the child. According to Hebrew law, the first-born son of each Jewish family was presented to God forty days after his birth. Joseph holds two turtledoves, the traditional sacrifice, while a number of people behind him carry burning candles. Blue smoke rises from the glowing orange wick of a candle that has just been extinguished by a draft from the outside door on the left.

The Holy Spirit had told the elderly Simeon that he would see the Lord's anointed one before dying and urged him to go to the Temple. The Latin inscription around the border records Simeon's words as he took the baby into his arms: Nunc timittis servum tuum Domine secundum (Now you dismiss your servant, Lord, according [to your word]).