- Inventory number
- Bosch, Hieronymus
- Adoration of the Magi
- Ca. 1495
- On display
- Royal Collection (Royal Monastery of San Lorenzo de El Escorial, Madrid, 1839)
The central panel depicts The Adoration of the Magi. The city of Bethlehem, with some fantastic buildings, is visible in the background. In the foreground, the Kings offer their gifts. One, on the floor, has a carving of the Sacrifice of Isaac, a foreshadowing of the Passion of Christ. Casper's clothing bears a view of Salomon's visit to the Queen of Sheba, an antecedent to the Magi's own visit to the Christ Child. With these images, the artist establishes two different levels on which to read the painting, linking Old and New Testament passages. It is more difficult to identify the nearly naked, chained figure looking out the door. He has been successively considered Adam, the Anti-Christ or Herod, yet none of these attributions is convincing.
The side panels portray the donors with their patron saints. Although the same landscape appears across the three panels, it is optically separated by the frames. On the left, the male donor kneels under the protection of Saint Peter with Saint Joseph in the background, heating the Christ Child's diapers at some distance from the Magi. On the right, the female donor is accompanied by Saint Inez.
When closed, this triptych represents Saint Gregory's Mass, painted in grisaille with two praying figures. The altar depicts Calvary with scenes from the Passion. The center shows Christ appearing to the Pope, who is saying Mass.
This work is from Bosch's last period. It is well preserved and is one of his finest pieces. It was originally in a chapel of `s-Hertogenbosch Cathedral and was later acquired by Felipe II, who sent it to El Escorial in 1574. From there, it entered the Prado Museum in 1839.