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

Adoration of the Magi (Cleveland)

oil on panel (29 × 19 cm) — c. 1490 Museum Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland

Geertgen tot Sint Jans biography

This work is linked to Matthew 2:11

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Two kings bring a tribute to the new-born Jesus. Joseph looks on from the background. The visitors are dressed in precious gowns and bring expensive gifts.

The great mystery of this delicate, intimate panel by Geertgen is of course where the third king has gone. To the right is the king representing Asia, identified by beard and turban. The oldest man is Europe. There actually used to be a figure representing Africa standing between the two other Magi. But technical research showed he was added much later; he was therefore removed during the 2002-03 restoration. Based on saw-marks and on Geertgen's other Adorations, it is now thought that the panel used to be about 28 cm wide, with Africa standing behind Asia.

So Asia does not grasp his head because he realizes they forgot to bring Africa...

Two other Adorations of the Magi by Geertgen are in Amsterdam and in Prague.

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