This large painting was acquired with an Art Fund grant and a Government Treasury advance.

It was probably painted as the altarpiece of the Lady Chapel at St Adrian's Grammont, near Brussels. The kneeling King, Caspar, is probably a portrait of Johannes de Broeder, who became abbot there in 1506 and may have commissioned the picture. Behind him stands Melchior with a retinue of attendants. Balthazar is on the left. Further back an onlooker, seen through a doorway, may be a self portrait of the artist. The dove, symbol of the Holy Spirit, descends to the infant Christ from the brilliant star in the sky, and angels approach from a great distance through a series of arches, giving the scene a spectacular sense of space and depth. Gossaert used the bright colour and highly detailed oil-painting technique of his 15th-century Netherlandish predecessors to sophisticated effect. The figures wear sumptuous costumes made of rich fabrics. The metalwork gifts presented by the Kings are elaborate and reflect current designs.

Provenance

Convent of Grammont, Belgium; Archduke Albert's Court Chapel in Brussels; Prince Charles of Lorraine, Governor of the Netherlands; Frederick, 5th Earl of Carlisle at Castle Howard.

Oil


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