Adoration of the Three Kings | 7th Tiberius Auction
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Adoration of the Three Kings

7th Tiberius Auction

Adoration of the Three Kings

After Sale Price:  15.168

  • BTC: 0,94223616 ฿
  • USD: 15.957 $
  • GBP: 13.038 £
  • CNY: 109.786 ¥

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Adoration of the Three Kings
Rhineland/Southern Netherlands
Around 1500
Wood relief carved & polychromed
43 x 42 cm, with frame 51 x 50 cm

This square relief depicting the Adoration of the Magi shows an aspect of Christ’s salvation with many carefully added details. This pictorial theme was already depicted on ancient or early Christian sarcophagi and also enjoyed great popularity in the Middle Ages.

Mary, wrapped in a wide cloak with expansive, voluminous folds, is sitting at the entrance to a stable, with the naked Jesus child on her lap. He is held upright by his mother and opens a casket offered to him. In front of the Madonna are depicted the three wise men from the East in different costumes, who want to pay homage to the child. Caspar, Melchior and Balthasar are shown larger than the other figures: the oldest, an old man with a long beard, kneels before the child and looks at Mary at eye level. The second, a youth without a beard and with short hair, is turned away from this central scene and has looks towards the third king, who is depicted as a “Moor”, apparently absorbed in conversation with him. Both have splendid gifts in their hands. The second king’s gesture of speech – probably originally pointing to the star – refers to the stables where Joseph is standing and feeding the ox and the donkey. The donkey, whose nostrils are just dipping into the feed bag, forms a playful moment in the otherwise respectful presentation.

The scene takes place at a threshold, with the gable of the stables visually exaggerating the Holy Family. Behind the three wise men are visible the city gates through which these travellers have first entered. In the upper part of the picture, in the distance, shepherds are depicted leading their sheep through a hilly, rocky landscape or resting there. This probably refers to the good news about the birth of Christ, which the angel of the Lord has already brought to the shepherds. The relief panel probably comes from the side wing of an altar, where it was integrated into the biblical cycle. The lush and complex folds suggest a date of origin around 1500. The composition is strongly reminiscent of Albrecht Dürer’s woodcut from the Life of Mary with the same subject, which was created around 1503/04. A similar relief can also be found in the Württemberg State Museum (WLM 1963-8), whereby the object shown here is the counterpart to lot 561. Lastly, it should be noted that the wonderfully preserved original polychromy here is particularly noteworthy, as this is exceptionally rare in sculptural works from this area.

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