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Workshop of Giovanni Bellini, The Adoration of the Kings

Key facts
Full title The Adoration of the Kings
Artist Workshop of Giovanni Bellini
Artist dates about 1435 - 1516
Date made about 1475-80
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 109.9 × 208.9 cm
Acquisition credit Layard Bequest, 1916
Inventory number NG3098
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Previous owners
The Adoration of the Kings
Workshop of Giovanni Bellini

In order to meet the huge demand for his paintings, Giovanni Bellini had a large workshop of assistants who produced works in his style, under his supervision – like this one, which shows the Three Kings worshipping the infant Christ. According to the Gospel of Matthew they followed a star – we can see it in the sky above Christ – to find him.

This painting is as much a landscape as it is a narrative painting. As is common in Bellini’s pictures, the natural features enhance the story: the expansive landscape can incorporate the long line of the kings‘ entourages, descending down the hillside path towards the holy family. The kings were from ’the east', which meant that painters could depict them wearing outfits, particularly turbans, that they associated with cultures in the Eastern Mediterranean and beyond.

The paint surface is considerably worn but the head of the king kneeling at the front is the best preserved part of the picture.

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