The Adoration of the Magi
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Guillaume Courtois
Italian, about 1665
Red chalk heightened with white (partly oxidized), the outlines indented with a stylus
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.