Geertgen tot Sint Jans ca. 1460/65 – ca. 1488/93

Adoration of the Magi (Prague)

oil on panel (main panel: 111 × 69 cm; wings: 71 × 39 cm) — c. 1485 Museum Národní galerie, Sternberg Palace, Prague

Geertgen tot Sint Jans biography

This work is linked to Matthew 2:11

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The central panel shows the three wise men from the east in adoration before the new-born child. They bring expensive gifts to him and his family.

The kneeling figures on the outer panels are probably the unknown donors. On the left is St. Bavo, identified by his attributes sword and falcon. The triotych is thought to be made for use in the church of St. Bavo in Haarlem. On the right panel is St. Adrian (or Hadrian), with in his left hand the anvil on which he was tortured.

The central panel of this nice triptych by Geertgen is less wide than the two outer wings put together. For unknown reasons a strip at least 8 centimeters wide was sawn off the left side of the panel. The removal shifted the main action, the handkiss, away from the center.

In 2008 a small panel in the collection of the Frankfurt historical museum was identified as originally belonging to this triptych. It shows Joseph, who until then was missing in this Adoration of the Magi.

grisailles of Mary and GabrielThe wings were also vandalised. That becomes obvious when one views the reverse sides of the wings, that show grisailles with Mary and the archangel Gabriel (both participants in the Annuncation).

Two other Adorations by Geertgen are in Cleveland and in Amsterdam.

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