A Three Kings Day Reunion
Posted: Monday, January 6, 2014
Virgin and Child with the Adoration of the Magi, ca. 1515–20. German, Swabia, Allgäu. Limewood with paint and gilding. Magi: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Purchase, Joseph Pulitzer Bequest, 1951 (51.28a, b). Virgin and Child: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Purchase, Audrey Love Charitable Foundation Gift, 2013 (2013.1093)
«Today, January 6, marks the Feast of the Epiphany, also known as Three Kings Day. This festival is widely celebrated, especially in western Christianity, as the day that the three wise men offered frankincense, myrrh, and gold to the Christ Child following their long journey from the East. This year, Three Kings Day is especially auspicious for the Museum's collection because today we celebrate the exceptional reunification of the sculptures pictured above.»
The early sixteenth-century German sculpture of the three Magi—the group on the right—entered the Metropolitan's collection in 1951. Two months ago, a surprisingly similar Virgin and Child—the pair on the left—appeared at auction. Recognizing that the two works originally belonged to the same altarpiece, the Museum quickly made arrangements to purchase the Virgin and Child; the figures arrived in New York last month and were installed in the Museum's Medieval Sculpture Hall at the end of last week. For the first time since the group was separated in the nineteenth century, the Magi can once again direct their gifts to the Christ Child!