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Key facts
Full title The Adoration of the Kings
Artist Jan Gossaert (Jean Gossart)
Artist dates active 1508; died 1532
Date made 1510-15
Medium and support Oil on oak
Dimensions 179.8 × 163.2 cm
Inscription summary Signed; Inscribed
Acquisition credit Bought with a special grant and contributions from the Art Fund, Lord Glenconner, Lord Iveagh and Alfred de Rothschild, 1911
Inventory number NG2790
Location Room 14
Art route(s) C
Collection Main Collection
The Adoration of the Kings
Jan Gossaert (Jean Gossart)
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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. Gossart seems to have painted it for the church between about 1510 and 1515, probably for the funerary chapel of Daniel van Boechout, lord of Boelare near Geraardsbergen.

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