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.