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After Joos van Cleve, The Adoration of the Kings

Key facts
Full title The Adoration of the Kings
Artist After Joos van Cleve
Artist dates active about 1511; died 1541/2
Date made probably 1525-50
Medium and support Oil on oak
Dimensions 66.7 × 55.7 cm
Acquisition credit Bought, 1854
Inventory number NG2155
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
The Adoration of the Kings
After Joos van Cleve

A man kneels before the Virgin Mary and infant Christ, and kisses the child’s hand – this is the Adoration of the Kings, taking place in the ruins of a palace. Saint Joseph, his luggage on a stick over his shoulder, pushes his hat back on his forehead.

It was once a triptych (a painting made up of three parts), with the other two kings presumably shown on the wings. It’s one of several surviving versions of the centre panel of the Adoration of the Kings (Museo Nazionale di Capodimonte, Naples) attributed to Joos van Cleve – and a fairly accurate one. The figures here follow the Naples Adoration quite closely, down to the colours of the clothes, though the landscape does not.

The panel has not only lost its outer wings, but has also been cut down at three edges, and its surface is obscured by dirt and discoloured varnishes.

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