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The Adoration of the Magi

c. 1504
Attributed to Master of the Morrison Triptych (Netherlandish, active c. 1500–1510)

This depiction of Magi, or wise men, is unusual for the number of Black and Brown individuals included. Biblical accounts relate how wise men came to Bethlehem bearing gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh for the newborn Christ Child. By the 1500s, the Magi were usually shown as three kings from Africa, Asia, and Europe.

The artist associated with this work was active in Antwerp, the city painstakingly described in the background. Antwerp was a significant port that sold spices from India, English cloth, and sugar from Spanish and Portuguese colonies in Brazil and the West Indies. The city attracted traders and merchants from around the world. Despite the increasingly exploitative aspects of this trade, Antwerp’s reputation as a tolerant city welcoming to Africans, Jewish people, and others is reflected in the sensitive depiction of individuals here.

Object Details

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