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Audio Guide - Adult

The Adoration of the Magi, ca. 1480-1490

Artist: Jacopo del Sellaio, Italian (Florentine School), ca. 1441/42 - 1493

Medium: Tempera on wood panel

Painting: 35 1/8 x 67 1/4 in. (89.2 x 170.8 cm)
Frame: 41 x 73 1/4 in. (104.1 x 186.1 cm)

Credit Line: Gift of the Samuel H. Kress Foundation

Object Number: 61.193

On View

Edouard Aynard (1873-1913), Lyons (sale, Paris, Georges Petit, Dec. 1, 1913, no. 64); Marczell von Nemes (1866-1930), Munich (sale, Amsterdam, Frederik Muller, Nov. 13, 1928, no. 14); probably bought in, for it appears again in the Nemes sale (sale, Munich, Cassirer & Helbing's, June 16-19, 1931, no. 20 [as Sellaio]; Kleinberger Galleries, New York; Count Alessandro Contini Bonacossi (1978-1955), Florence-Rome, June 12, 1935; Samuel H. Kress (1863-1955), New York, New York, 1939; National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 1952 (deaccessioned); Samuel H. Kress Foundation, New York, New York, 1961

In one of his finest and most complex works, Sellaio has depicted the Adoration of the Magi as an elaborate pageant. Such a parade was regularly organized in Florence on Epiphany by The Company of the Magi, a wealthy confraternity associated with the ruling Medici family. The pageant was suspended in 1478, just before this work was painted, for fear of an insurrection against the Medici. The size and format of this panel suggests it served as a spalliera, or decorated backboard, most likely of a wedding chest (casonne), and was perhaps commissioned for the home of a Medici ally.