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Adoration of the Magi with Saint Anthony Abbot
Adoration of the Magi with Saint Anthony Abbot
Unknown
Burgundy, about 1390
Oil and tempera and gold and silver leaf on panel
41 3/16 x 74 3/16 in.
2004.68

Against a bright red background dotted with shimmering stars, the Three Kings pay homage to Christ. The artist depicted Christ as a lively child sitting on his mother's lap, with Joseph sitting behind them. The child dips his hands into the gold coins offered to him, symbolizing his acceptance of his kingship.

The figure on the far left is Saint Anthony Abbot, the founder of monasticism. The saint holds a bell to ward off the devil and is accompanied by a pig, symbolizing his healing of infirmity. Pig's lard was one of the remedies for "Saint Anthony's fire," a skin disease named after the saint, which was epidemic at the time. A church or hospital devoted to Anthony as its patron saint probably commissioned the painting.

In a gesture of reverence, the oldest Magi, Caspar, kneels before Christ with his crown beside him. The next youngest king, Balthasar, stands behind him. A black page beside the young Melchior refers to the Magi's distant journey from faraway lands.

The painting's patterned background and the Magi's courtly, fur-lined robes are characteristic of the International Gothic style that dominated Europe around 1400. The style was characterized by courtly opulence, a degree of naturalism, and an elegant, graphical quality.
Location: Getty Center, North Pavilion, Gallery N202

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