Geertgen tot Sint Jans: The adoration of the Magi (1480 - 1485)


(Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, The Netherlands)

A painting by the Dutch artist Geertgen tot Sint Jans (1465-1495). One of the four paintings of Geertgen tot Sint Jans about the Adoration of the Magi. In this version the three kings are on the left side. The kneeling king is Caspar who is offering Christ a goblet filled with gold coins. Behind Caspar are Melchior, with long dark hair and a beard, who is holding a gold chalice in his right hand, while the black King Balthazar has a crystal goblet. Since the Middle Ages the three kings are associated with the continents known at the time, with Melchior representing Asia, Balthazar Africa and Caspar Europe. In the background you can see the three kings arriving, each from a different direction: matching the kings’ positions in the foreground, there is Africa on the left, Asia in the middle and Europe on the right. Painting from 1480-1485.





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