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The adoration of the Magi. Triptych

Painting, 1494, 147.4×168.6 cm

Description of the artwork «The adoration of the Magi. Triptych»

"The adoration of the Magi Hieronymus Bosch – the rare case, when not knowing the exact Dating of the work (Prado Museum indicates uncertain "about 1494", but many experts date the triptych 1510-ies and is considered one of the last works of the artist), we can definitely call it customers (donators). The triptych was commissioned by well-born burgher of ' s-Hertogenbosch Peter Bronkhorst (Bronchorst) on the occasion of his marriage with Agnes Basswise (Bosshuyse). Their kneeling portraits accompanied by the celestial patrons both St. Peter's and St. Agnes – are placed on the outer wings of the triptych.

According to the plan of the newlyweds, "the adoration of the Magi" was supposed to decorate the chapel of the Brotherhood of our lady in ' s-Hertogenbosch – by the same religious organizations, according to archival documents, he belonged Bosch. Fate, however, decreed otherwise: in the middle of the XVI century "adoration of the Magi" was first transported to Brussels Meganom de Kesempatan, Secretary of the Duke of Egmont, and in 1567, the year confiscated by the Duke of Alba was a Spanish Governor in the Netherlands, famous for their extraordinary cruelty. A few years later, Alba gave triptych king of Spain Philip II big connoisseur of the art of Bosch. Between 12 and 16 April 1574 the work was done in the Escorial, and in 1839, the year was moved to the Prado, where he is to this day.

The adoration of the Magi" perfectly preserved: on the frames even left traces of the original gilding.

External doors

External doors of the adoration of the Volkhov"as in the rest of the triptychs of Hieronymus Bosch, executed in monochrome technique called "grisaille". Her gray-brown palette is only interrupted by the bright figure of the kneeling donor in the red headdress. Recent studies conclusively proved that it belongs to the Bosch and was added later.

The plot of the external folds have received the name "The mass of St Gregory". In the life of this Saint contains a legend about how once, during mass, the clerk who helped Gregory the Great news service, doubted that the blessed sacrament really brought the sacrament into the body and blood of Christ. Then Gregory began fervently to pray that the Lord revealed the sign, which will strengthen weak faith. And his prayers were answered: in the altar arose Christ wearing the crown of thorns, showing ulcers of the nails.

The task of the external flaps is to configure the viewer on the perception of what he sees when panels of a triptych open. In a sense, Bosch writes of the Catholic mass, not only outside: it is believed that the inside and on the inner wings of the adoration of the Magi Bosch likens what is happening all Church Liturgy.

The inner sash

The inner fold with images on them donators are United with the Central part of a triptych, due to their common landscape in a beautiful greenish-buff colour. Beautiful view depicts the nature of North Brabant, the birthplace of the artist.

Like any other medieval master, in the background, Bosch depicts the various small-scale scenes, to fill the space. For example, in the middle third of the left leaf, just above the heads of donator of Bronkhorst, you can see how Joseph, the husband of Mary, dry over fire fire baby diaper. It reflects the simple folk performances of Joseph as cuckold, the deceived husband: the Dutch priests cost a lot of effort to turn the thoughts of his flock on this subject in a godly direction.

The Central part of the triptych

At first glance, it may seem that the adoration of the Magi" by Bosch is not too different from the famous altars of his predecessor Jan van Eyck. We also see a religious scene, recreated with beautiful and harmonious colors and balanced composition. Types of the virgin and child is typical Dutch, recognizable – this can be found in van Eyck or Rogier van der Weyden. And at some point may even seem that here given pious and reverent mood, so characteristic of Christmas themes.

But it is worth a closer look – and all the traditional splendor crumbles, like a fake gold plated. And instead of appeasing the audience bolhovskim typically imbued with a sense of increasing anxiety. At the forefront of riddles and glaring inconsistencies. Why, for example, need a flashy dissonance between the carefully and meticulously spelled out the clothing and jewelry of the Magi and gross cracks, cracks, sloppy pieces of straw dilapidated building? Why shepherds, who climbed onto the roof, behave so cavalierly? And most importantly – why of the kings (Magi) not three, as in the canonical text or any other beautiful picture of this scene, and why four? Or, perhaps, the fourth, wearing a Royal crown and cloak barely hiding nakedness, tied at the door – this is not the sorcerer? But who is he? What made Bosch to enter into the established track of the new character of such unexpected and unexplained mysterious? Most of the questions no clear answers so far, but what has the science – only version.

The three brought gifts to the infant of the Magi (or kings) who were called Balthazar, Caspar and Melchior, over time, became identified with the cardinal points in which Christianity was spread, Europe, Asia and Africa, so the youngest Magus, Caspar, the artist depicts the black man, and the realism and craftsmanship he is considered one of the best images Bosch.

The new Testament reports which were the gifts of the Magi: they brought Jesus gold because they believed that the earth came a king), frankincense (the incense that burned in the temples – as the Magi recognized the divine nature of the baby), and myrrh (used for embalming the dead – this the wise men were given to understand that they are open and the future death of Christ). But Bosch is not limited to a simple statement in the picturesque image of the gifts he receives much more original. Here the effect is its love to detail and significant detail. Baltazar, a senior Magus in a red cloak, Bosch puts to feet of Mary gold sculpture. It depicts the old Testament characters of Abraham and his son Isaac, whom the father intends to sacrifice. It is a foreshadowing of the sacrifice that the divine infant will make on the cross. Melchior, the second wise man, dressed in the incredible beauty of the breastplate of precious stones, depicting the visit of the Queen of Sheba to king Solomon. Black Kaspar holds in his hand the power of silver. From the top it is crowned by a bird – an eagle or a Pelican (the symbol of sacrifice and atonement), and the power is also depicted old Testament characters – captain Abner and the winner of Goliath David.

In the background are shown the army, part of which is preparing to cross the river. Perhaps this is the retinue of one of the kings or, perhaps, a hint of the army of the three kings of the earth described in the Apocalypse.

But the most disconcerting is the group of grotesque characters, penetrating into the half-ruined stables, and especially their probable leader. His nakedness covers only a purple cloak. On one leg is a transparent cylinder that hides an ulcer (by the way, wounded leg during the Bosch was a symbol of sin, ignorance, and meant people who have not yet converted to Christianity), and between the legs Golden cloth reflecting demons. The head is crowned with a crown, hand – decorated with gold bracelets. In one of them he keeps bulky Golden helmet. Who might he be?

One of the most common (though unprovable) hypothesis is that in front of us – the devil's retinue, eager to intervene. This is indicated by the expression of overt hostility on their faces, something resembling characters Ghent "carrying the cross" and only their leader expresses anger and looks at the baby with an inexplicable duplicity.

Other versions allow that vohv Balaam from the Book of Numbers," which predicted the coming of the Messiah, but then, tempted, transformed from a prophet to a false teacher. He failed, but is now expecting pardon from Christ. In the background, above the roof of the barn someone just pulls the donkey: this can be a reminder of the notorious "unto Balaam's ass, which resisted and did not want to go forward, and then spoke. This version with reference to an unpublished article by Charles SIA presents Walter Bosing, author of the book "Hieronymus Bosch. Between Heaven and Hell."

Another version says that in the barn entered king Herod and his spies.
Scholar Nicholas Baume (based on the research which the BBC had a film "Mysteries of Hieronymus Bosch") believes that the us is the progenitor of the Christ – king David. His Nude figure was adorned with gold and covered with a flaming cloak is a reminder of the old Testament episode of the transfer of the ark when David jumped with all their might before the Lord..." (2 Samuel 6: 12 FF).

The "correct" version exists, which makes the triptych one of the most enigmatic Hieronymus Bosch and the most unusual "Adoration of the Magi" in the history of European art.

Cm. also The adoration of the Magi" from Philadelphia painting attributed to Bosch, but rather made in his workshop and finished after his death).

Author: Anna Yesterday

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About the artwork

Art form: Painting

Subject and objects: Religious scene

Style of art: Northern Renaissance

Technique: Oil

Materials: Wood

Date of creation: 1494

Size: 147.4×168.6 cm

Artwork in selections: 17 selections

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