The Adoration of the Magi

Artist: Giotto di Bondone (Italian, Florentine, 1266/76–1337)

Date: possibly ca. 1320

Medium: Tempera on wood, gold ground

Dimensions: 17 3/4 x 17 1/4 in. (45.1 x 43.8 cm)

Classification: Paintings

Credit Line: John Stewart Kennedy Fund, 1911

Accession Number: 11.126.1


This picture—at once austere and tender—belongs to a series of seven showing the life of Christ. The masterly depiction of the stable, which is viewed from slightly below, and the columnar solidity of the figures are typical of Giotto, the founder of European painting. The impetuous action of the kneeling king, who picks up the Christ Child, and Mary’s expression of concern translate the Biblical account into deeply human terms. As the sculptor Ghiberti declared (ca. 1450): "[Giotto] made [art] natural and gave it gentleness."