The Adoration of the Kings

The Three Kings have sought out the Child Jesus in the stable where he was born. They bear gifts (gold, frankincense and myrrh) and have journeyed from the East (Matthew 2: 10-12). The stable at Bethlehem is attached to the ruins of a great classical building with a triumphal arch in the background. Across the foreground the kings and their attendants are presented with grandeur. Angels appear in the sky, along the ray of light by the side of the arch.

The dominant diagonal, created by this beam of heavenly light, is countered by the diagonal formed by the adoring figures, with Virgin and Child placed where they intersect.

The picture is dated 1573 in Roman numerals on the lowest step (bottom right). It was painted for the church of S. Silvestro in Venice, where it remained until the church was altered in the 19th century. It was not an altarpiece but a large painting for the wall of the nave beside the altar of the confraternity dedicated to Saint Joseph.

Key facts

Artist dates
1528 - 1588
Full title
The Adoration of the Kings
Date made
Medium and support
Oil on canvas
355.6 x 320 cm
Inscription summary
Acquisition credit
Bought, 1855
Inventory number
Location in Gallery