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This large altarpiece is crammed with peasants, animals, angels and richly dressed kings and courtiers, come to worship the infant Christ, who sits on his mother’s lap in a palatial but ruined building. Jean Gossart has signed the painting on the hat of Balthasar, the king on the left, and on the silver collar of his attendant. Technical analysis has revealed the skill, time and effort which the artist put into this picture. There is a considerable amount of underdrawing and a great many changes made at all stages, all apparently done by Gossart himself. There are virtuoso passages of detail, especially in the foreground: the hairs sprouting from Caspar’s cheek and the decoration of his hat; the fringes of Balthasar’s stole. By 1600 this painting was perhaps in the abbey of St Adrian at Geraardsbergen (Graamont) in East Flanders.
The Adoration of the Kings
oil on oak
H 177.2 x W 161.8 cm
Bought with a special grant and contributions from The Art Fund, Lord Glenconner, Lord Iveagh and Alfred de Rothschild, 1911