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Vincenzo Foppa, The Adoration of the Kings

Key facts
Full title The Adoration of the Kings
Artist Vincenzo Foppa
Artist dates active 1456 - 1515/16
Date made perhaps about 1500
Medium and support Oil on poplar
Dimensions 238.8 × 210.8 cm
Acquisition credit Bought, 1863
Inventory number NG729
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
The Adoration of the Kings
Vincenzo Foppa

At the end of their long journey, three magnificently dressed kings offer gifts to the Christ Child, who is seated on the Virgin’s lap. Behind them, their retinue winds its way through the hilly landscape from Jerusalem, visible on a distant hilltop. This is the Adoration of the Kings (Matthew 2: 11), when three kings followed a star from the East to find the infant Christ in a stable in Bethlehem.

This altarpiece is the largest and most impressive of the National Gallery’s collection of paintings made in Lombardy in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. The scene is carefully structured to focus attention on the gifts and Christ, but anecdotal details bring the procession to life. At the back, two men – one wears a furry cap, the other a hood – hold falcons. On the right, a young page on a grey horse has stuck his feet into the stirrup leathers as he can't reach the stirrups.

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