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Poelenburgh, Cornelius van
The Adoration of the Magi
1640s

While the Dutch Republic was largely Protestant, Catholicism remained strong in Cornelius van Poelenburgh’s home city of Utrecht, creating a market for scenes from the life of Christ. Van Poelenburgh painted at least five versions of this composition, depicting the three magi (kings or wise men) bringing gifts from afar to the infant Christ. He follows a visual tradition of presenting one magus, Caspar, as Black African. Classical ruins remind us that Bethlehem was then under Roman rule.

 
Poelenburgh, Cornelius van
Utrecht, Netherlands, 1594/1595–Utrecht, Netherlands, 1667
The Adoration of the Magi
1640s
Oil on panel
overall: 45.5 cm x 34.5 cm
Gift of Alfred and Isabel Bader, 2014
57-001.23

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