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The Adoration of the Magi

Photo credit: Victoria Art Gallery

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The subject is from St Matthew’s Gospel and shows the Magi, or three Wise Men, offering gifts of gold, incense, and perfumed ointment to the newborn Christ child. The story was a popular theme in Christian art and is the origin of our tradition of exchanging gifts at Christmas.

The Magi were a Persian sacred caste, skilled in astrology and the occult. Following medieval legend, one of them was depicted as black. They appear twice in the picture – on the right-hand side on camels, following the Star that led them to Bethlehem, and again on the left, presenting their gifts. The figure to the right of Mary is Joseph.

Victoria Art Gallery



The Adoration of the Magi


oil on board


H 43.3 x W 72.3 cm

Accession number

BATVG : P : 1900.19

Acquisition method

bequeathed by James Shepherd, 1900

Work type



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Victoria Art Gallery

Bridge Street, Bath, Somerset BA2 4AT England

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