Federazione Italiana Mercanti d'Arte

"Adoration of the Magi"

School of Pieter Paul Rubens 17th c.

"Adoration of the Magi"
Flemish master of the 17th century
School of Pieter Paul Rubens
(1577-1640)
Oil painting on canvas
Lacquered and silvered frame
Canvas measures 100 x 75
Frame measures 113 x 87
Very good condition

The episode of the Adoration of the Child by the Magi is considered the most joyous moment in Christ's life and has been depicted with particularly fascinating works by all the great Masters of ancient painting.
From Southern Italy, with the famous Neapolitan compositions, up to Northern Europe with the splendid Flemish scenes, the subject was among the favorites and lent itself to highlighting the pictorial skills and descriptive imagination of the Authors who competed with each other creating exciting and rich in pathos.
Among the major Nordic interpreters of this theme, the genius of Peter Paul Rubens certainly stood out who depicted the magical event with magnificent canvases of great inspiration, which ranged from an intimate image of the scene to representations of unsurpassed theatricality.
The canvas in question takes up the compositional structure of one of the most famous, now exhibited in the Museum of Fine Arts in Lyon and which his prolific workshop re-proposed in different variations and in multiple formats. Our version, although upside down, shows all the peculiarities present in the Rubens painting.
In particular it presents the image, considered irreverent at the time, of the Child supported by the Mother while tenderly caressing the bald head of Melchior, the eldest of the three Magi, depicted according to tradition kneeling and without the crown. The King devoutly kisses the foot of the Newborn and offers a golden cup as a gift. In the foreground the imposing figure of Gaspare stands out, with a long beard and oriental headdress, wearing a long and sumptuous red cloak held up at the end by a young page. His gift is a casket full of incense.
Behind him the Black King Belshazzar, with a shining pink velvet cloak and a white turban on his head. A small black servant near him holds the cup with myrrh. We find another analogy with the painting by Rubens in the vigorous figures of the two horses that can be seen behind the group of Mori and which present the particular morphological characteristics prerogative of the great Master.
The scene takes place at dusk and the protagonists are irradiated by a magical light that illuminates their faces and brightly colored clothes.
The author impresses a chiaroscuro game of considerable intensity managing to create an atmosphere of great effect.
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