The Adoration of the Magi

Artist: Justus of Ghent (Joos van Wassenhove) (Netherlandish, active by 1460–died ca. 1480)

Date: ca. 1465

Medium: Distemper on canvas

Dimensions: 43 x 63 in. (109.2 x 160 cm)

Classification: Paintings

Credit Line: Bequest of George Blumenthal, 1941

Accession Number: 41.190.21


This Adoration is one of only two surviving works painted by Justus of Ghent before he went to Italy in 1469 to work for Federico da Montefeltro, duke of Urbino. The stage-like space and arrangement of the main figures in two parallel diagonal lines suggest that the artist was inspired by contemporary plays, which reenacted the story of the Epiphany.

Possibly commissioned for a convent near Burgos, Spain, the picture is painted on canvas and could thus be rolled for easy transport. The gouache-like medium applied to a relatively porous support accounts for the subdued tonality and matte surface.