Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Adoration of the Magi

Gentile da Fabriano, Adoration of the Magi, 1423 (Uffizi Gallery, Florence)
Click on the link to go to the original and then click again on the photo to enlarge it. You can see a fascinating amount of detail. And in this painting, detail matters!

I was made aware of this magnificent piece by my friend Patsy last year. It is just the sort of thing I love, with tons of details and other small related paintings to enrich the story and our inspiration.

Flooded with details, the painting boasts of a rich narrative as well. Notice the attendants behind Mary as they curiously examine the first gift. Or in the right foreground, observe the royal dog that looks precariously up at the horse who is about to carelessly step onto him. Indeed intriguing are the gold anklet spurs of the third king being taken off by a squire as the Magus prepares to approach the Christ Child.
Be sure to go to the Aletia article for lots more good insight into this work.

I also found an article from Khan Academy looking at this work, and the many details, from a different angle. It too is well worth reading.

In the middle predella panel, the new family flees to Egypt against a landscape bathed in the blazing midday sun – a raised golden orb amid a blue sky showering the nearest hillsides in gold. ...

Gentile used real gold to achieve many of these subtle lighting effects, demonstrating his ability to combine intricate manipulation of precious materials with an interest in naturalism. Perfecting a technique that would be copied by many other artists, he layered gold leaf underneath layers of paint to lend brightly lit surfaces an added glow—an effect that would be more readily apparent in candlelight. This means precious metals are woven underneath the surface, on the surface, and protruding from the surface, like a tapestry made of paint and gold.

1 comment:

  1. What a rich legacy of art and artistry we Catholics have! God bless all those who sought to praise Him through the talents He gave them!