The three wise men, or more more properly the three kings that came bearing gifts for the newborn Jesus, occupy a unique place in Christian thought and art. The three magi have been depicted in Christian art for centuries. This is a sample essay that discusses the different ways the Magi are represented through various mediums. If you’re looking to buy an essay on religion studies or a related field, this paper offers a concise view on the artistic history of Christian imagery.
The adoration of the Magi
The Adoration of the Magi is traditionally known to be a name given to the Nativity of Jesus in art. The painting or artistry has depicted the three Magi, or kings who come bearing gifts to Jesus. This particular scene of the Nativity of Jesus refers to the book of Matthew in the Bible. The Adoration of the Magi has been depicted in art by hundreds of artists including Lorenzo Monaco, Leonardo da Vinci, Andrea della Robbia, Botticelli and Velazquez.
Appeareances of the Magi
In most of the paintings of the Adoration of the Magi, the kings are shown dressed in clothing of a regal nature. 14th century illustrations of the Adoration of the Magi are generally shown to be more spectacular in their depictions of what the kings have on. Paintings from this era also have in-depth attention that is paid to how the gifts are exhibited. The Magi scene in general shows a diverse amount of animals including ox, horses, camels and sometimes birds (“The Adoration of the Magi”).
The Adoration of the Magi, as mentioned previously is identified based on a particular scripture scene in the bible. The scripture itself is
“and when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense and myrrh” (Matthew 2:11 KJV).
The painting has been noted as being called the adoration of the Magi specifically because it shows the birth of Jesus with the crib as the noteworthy subject. The arrival of the three kings and others to pay homage to the birth of Jesus is known as the procession and sometimes has been shown in the background of the painting.
In the Adoration of the Magi painting in the Honolulu Museum of Art, the painting is oil on wood panel and noted as being early 16th century.
“Although many 16th-century paintings have survived the passage of time, the specific identity of the artists responsible for them often remains obscure. A body of recognizable works, which includes this richly detailed biblical subject, is given to the hand of the Master of 1518” (“The Adoration of the Magi).
The painting’s description reads. The Master of 158 is a specific artist that has no known name. The only piece of information available on the Master of 1518 is that the name comes from an altarpiece found in a church in Lubeck, Germany. (“Adoration of the Magi). What is notable about this particular picture of the ‘Magi’ is that it is elaborate in color and texture. The detail is matchless in its sophisticated quality. The artist uses beautiful textiles to depict the scene in the Bible.
The brushwork presented is constructed with “high surface finished and noted are the elaborate gold and gemstone borders reflecting the Flemish skill” (“The Adoration of the Magi”). The Master of 1518 was a Flemish painter, who subscribed to the classic style of painting from Antwerp Mannerism. Antwerp Mannerism is a style of paintings attributed to the onset of the 16th century.
The style of these paintings has often been noted as being peculiar in their depictions and compositions. Antwerp Mannerists are particularly drawn to Adoration scenes and delighted in drawing the patterns and architectural surroundings that are present in these specific types of backgrounds. The style was coined “by the art historian Max Friedlander in 1915 to describe the elaborate religious art” (“Antwerp Mannerism”) style depth that these paintings usually carry.
It is difficult not to find the Adoration of the Magi striking, not solely because of its elaborate illustration in the Honolulu Museum but because of its depiction of a scene that has become a part of society as a whole. Biblical scripture has continued to provide the backdrop for many artists to show their style in various ways and the Adoration of the Magi, allowed the Master of 1518 to exhibit and display his.
“The Adoration of the Magi.” Honolulu Museum of Art, n.d. Web. 24 Mar. 2013.
“Antwerp Mannerism.” Oxford University Press, 2011. Web. 24 Mar. 2013.
“Matthew 2:11 KJV.” Biblegateway.com, n.d. Web. 24 Mar. 2013.