The Adoration of the Kings

The Three Kings journeyed to Bethlehem to honour the new-born Jesus. They followed a star (towards the left, at the top), and brought gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. New Testament (Matthew 2: 2-12). The accompanying figures to the right are the kings' retinue. The figure on the left, perhaps in penitential garb, might be the donor.The retinue of the kings is striking for the Oriental costumes that are depicted. This has been related to Giovanni Bellini's brother Gentile's visit to Constantinople in 1479-81.

The painting, very damaged and much darkened, is distinctive in its interpretation of the story.

Key facts

Artist dates
active about 1459; died 1516
Full title
The Adoration of the Kings
Date made
about 1475-80
Medium and support
Oil on canvas
109.9 x 208.9 cm
Acquisition credit
Layard Bequest, 1916
Inventory number
Location in Gallery