Master of the Holy Kinship
Adoration of the Magi
ca. 1475–1500
Oil on panel
H. 53 3/4, w. 37 in.
IU Art Museum, Gift of Mrs. Nicholas H. Noyes, 78.62.1

This painting illustrates a story from the New Testament telling how three foreign kings (the Magi or Wise Men) followed a star to Bethlehem to worship the recently born Jesus, who is shown here sitting on his mother Mary’s lap. The Wise Men offer gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. The artist paid careful attention to natural details, making this ancient Bible story connect very directly to fifteenth-century viewers by incorporating contemporary faces (the principal kneeling figure is the donor) and contemporary buildings (in the background) into the scene.

Made for a church in Richterich, near Aachen, Germany, this painting was originally one of the wings of a three-panel altarpiece. The other wing depicts the Resurrection (Christ’s rebirth) and is also part of the IU Art Museum collection. The central panel, which shows the Crucifixion (Christ’s death), is owned by a Belgian museum. As a group these panels illustrate the major events in the life of Christ (birth, death, and resurrection), all core elements of Christianity.