Monday, December 14, 2009

The Three Kings before Herod

Title: The Three Kings before Herod

Artist: Unknown

Medium: Watercolor on paper

Size: tbd

Date: c.1120 - 1145.

Location: From the St Albans Psalter, St Godehard Dombibliothek, Hildesheim.

Matthew 2:1-8 reiterates that Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, and places the event during the reign of King Herod. About that time some wise men from eastern lands arrived in Jerusalem, asking, “Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star as it rose, and we have come to worship him.”

King Herod was deeply disturbed when he heard this, as was everyone in Jerusalem. He called a meeting of the leading priests and teachers of religious law and asked, “Where is the Messiah supposed to be born?”

“In Bethlehem in Judea,” they said, “for this is what the prophet wrote: ‘And you, O Bethlehem in the land of Judah, are not least among the ruling cities of Judah, for a ruler will come from you who will be the shepherd for my people Israel.’”

Then Herod called for a private meeting with the wise men, and he learned from them the time when the star first appeared. Then he told them, “Go to Bethlehem and search carefully for the child. And when you find him, come back and tell me so that I can go and worship him, too!”

This illustration depicts Herod seated in his distinct space, holding an open book which he discussed with the kings, while a sword bearer stands behind him. Herod consults the prophecy of Micah to locate Bethlehem as the birthplace of the Messiah. Facing him, and gesticulating in animated fashion, the three kings stand in order of seniority, led by the oldest with a white beard. The star shines beyond the margin.

The St Albans Psalter, also known as the Albani Psalter or the Psalter of Christina of Markyate, is an English illuminated manuscript, one of several Psalters known to have been created at or for St Albans Abbey in the 12th century. It is widely considered to be one of the most important examples of English Romanesque book production: it is of almost unprecedented lavishness of decoration and contains a number of iconographic innovations that would endure throughout the Middle Ages. Scholarly opinion differs on many of the details, but there is general agreement that the Psalter was created at St Albans Abbey during the abbacy of Geoffrey de Gorham or Gorron (1119-1146), and that it was probably owned by Christina of Markyate (born circa 1098, died perhaps between 1155 and 1166), anchoress and later prioress of Markyate.

No comments:

Post a Comment