A Triptych: The Adoration of the Magi, The Nativity at Night, with the Annunciation to the Shepherds, and The Flight into Egypt
active, Antwerp ca. 1515-1520
early 16th century
32 1/4 x 9 5/8 in. (81.92 x 24.45 cm)
Medium and Support
oil on panel, in an engaged frame
Museum Purchase, Lloyd O. and Marjorie Strong Coulter Fund, Jane H. and Charles E. Parker, Jr. Art Acquisition Fund and Laura T. and John H. Halford, Jr. Art Acquisition Fund
An exceptional copy of Jan de Beer’s now-lost Adoration triptych, this painting expresses ideas found in sixteenth-century Antwerp, de Beer’s home and Europe’s largest commercial port. Within classical ruins and naturalistic scenery, scenes in the life of the Holy Family are depicted with sophistication and visual elegance. The birth of Christ appears at left and the Flight into Egypt is on the right. At center, three wise men offer gold, frankincense, and myrrh, gifts that mirrored the economy of Antwerp where these rare commodities arrived from India, Asia, and Africa. One king is a Black African whose turban identifies him as Muslim although the artist depicted him in European dress. Through the Trans-Saharan trade route, African rulers were known and respected in Renaissance Europe, before racism and exploitation led to the capture and enslavement of their people.
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