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The Adoration of the Kings

Photo credit: The National Gallery, London

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The Three Kings have come to visit the infant Christ in the stable where he was born. They bring gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh, and have journeyed from the East (Matthew 2: 10–12). The stable at Bethlehem is attached to the ruins of a great classical building with a triumphal arch in the background. Angels appear in the sky, along the ray of light that falls on Christ. The dominant diagonal, created by this beam of heavenly light, is countered by the diagonal formed by the adoring figures, with the Virgin Mary and Christ Child placed where they intersect.

The picture is dated 1573 and was painted for the church of S. Silvestro in Venice. It was not an altarpiece but a large painting for the wall of the nave beside the altar of the confraternity dedicated to Saint Joseph.

The National Gallery, London



The Adoration of the Kings




Oil on canvas


H 355.6 x W 320 cm

Accession number


Acquisition method

Bought, 1855

Work type



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The National Gallery, London

Trafalgar Square, London, Greater London WC2N 5DN England

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