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Adoration of the Magi
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Adoration of the Magi

Description Conservation Provenance Inscription Credit
Description "Wise men from the East," in the Gospel of Matthew's account of Christ's birth, saw a new star and, believing it to be a divine omen, came to honor the one marked for future greatness. Whether extraordinary appearances must be divinely ordained or could be random was a "hot" question in the 1600s. The wise men were traditionally depicted as of different ages, and, by the Renaissance, the youngest was depicted as an African, probably to reflect the universal acknowledgment of Christ's divinity. The artist could have encountered Africans in Antwerp. In addition, Pieter Coecke traveled to Constantinople in 1533 to work for the Turkish Sultan. Woodcuts based on his drawings--The Customs and Fashions of the Turks-- were published in 1553 after his death by his widow. From this experience, he knew quite well how to depict inhabitants of the Muslim world. The altarpiece, of a size for a small chapel, was commissioned by Elisabeth van Langenhove, according to the damaged inscription on the frame. Nothing more is known about her; this is especially unfortunate as there are few altarpieces that bear only the name of a woman patron.
Date Description Narrative
Treatmentloss compensation
Examinationexamined for condition
1/06/1941Treatmentcoated; cleaned; loss compensation
1/06/1941Treatmentcleaned; coated; inpainted; other
9/01/1957Treatmentcoated; cleaned; loss compensation; repaired
9/01/1957Treatmentcoated; inpainted; varnish removed or reduced
10/26/1957Examinationexamined for condition
12/08/1969Treatmentcoated; loss compensation; other
12/16/1969Treatmentcoated; inpainted; loss compensation
9/14/1984Examinationexamined for condition
9/01/1985Treatmentcleaned; loss compensation
9/01/1985Treatmentcoated; loss compensation
9/17/1985Treatmentloss compensation; cleaned; coated; re-housed; other
9/17/1985Treatmentcoated; inpainted; loss compensation; varnish removed or reduced
6/01/1986Technical Reportother
6/01/1986Technical Reportexamined for technical study
2/01/1987Treatmentcoated; loss compensation; repaired
2/01/1987Treatmentcoated; filled; inpainted; varnish removed or reduced
11/01/1996Treatmentloss compensation
3/09/2011Examinationexamined for condition
Provenance Henry Walters, Baltimore [date and mode of acquisition unknown]; Walters Art Museum, 1931, by bequest.
Inscriptions [Inscription] On frame notes that this piece was commissioned by Elisabeth van Langenhove
Credit Acquired by Henry Walters

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1540-1549 (Renaissance)
oil on panel
(Painting & Drawing)
Accession Number
H: 39 1/2 x W: 54 in. (100.3 x 137.1 cm)

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