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Adoration of the Magi
Circa 1475-Circa 1480
egg tempera and gold leaf on vellum
130 x 85 mm
Collection of the Dunedin Public Art Gallery. Given 1951 by Archdeacon F H D Smythe.
Cut from the same Book of Hours as the Annunciation to the Shepherds, this miniature decorates the beginning of sext or the sixth canonical hour of the Hours of the Virgin. The scene focuses on the delicate moment when the Magi arrive to kneel before the infant Christ who would become king of all. Mary and the Holy Child sit in a wattle-walled thatched-roofed stable with a landscape and distant city to the right. The eldest magus is kneeling to present his gift, while the eyes of the second are drawn to the radiance of heaven. The border is composed of the same flower and acanthus leaf with gold bezant design as the Annunciation to the Shepherds, and the historiated initial contains a gesticulating peasant.
This event, known as the Epiphany, symbolises the recognition of Christ by the pagan world. It is traditionally celebrated on 6 January, or Twelfth Night, the last of the twelve days of Christmas. As with the Annunciation to the Shepherds, the style and composition are typical of the Maître François atelier.

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