Title: The Adoration of the Magi
Artist: Quentin Massys
Medium: Oil on wood
Size: 103 x 80 cm
Matthew 2:11 chronicles how the wise men, on coming to the house, saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh.
That the Magi offer Jesus both homage and standard gifts from the East fits Eastern practices; for instance, royal courts there used frankincense and myrrh (though these spices also had many other uses). The Magi's homage to Jesus may reflect biblical language alluding to the pilgrimage and homage of nations in Psalm 72:10 or Isaiah 60:6. Regardless, this homage reinforces the point of the narrative: if God's people will not honor Jesus, former pagans will.
This intentionally claustrophobic composition is characteristic of works produced by the first generation of Renaissance painters in
Quentin Massys, also spelled Matsys, Metsys, or Messys (b. 1465, Leuven, d. 1530, Antwerpen), was a Flemish artist considered the first important painter of the