Epiphany, Bosch (II)

Epiphany, Bosch (II)
Epiphany, Bosch (II)

The Adoration of the Magi by Bosch is one of the best-known works by the Flemish artist. This was the only epiphany painted by Hieronymus Bosch. In the Finnish Art Museum there is also a panel with this same theme, but the latest research seems to indicate that this work was not made by the Flemish master but by one of his followers.


Closing the triptych we find ourselves before a small format work, barely over seventy-two centimeters high and one hundred and thirty-eight wide. In this position we can see how the artist represents the mass of Saint Gregory; in it it is related how the pontiff doubted that the true Jesus Christ was found in the Eucharist so that as a sign of his power and so that the saint would not doubt again he appeared to him in body and soul in the Eucharist with some of the signs of the passion. Surrounding Jesus Christ are sculptures of the passion in relief. In the lower part we can see the donors that have been made in grisaille but seem to be a later addition.

The main theme of the Adoration of the Magi is found in the central table, it is presided over by the image of the Virgin Mary who is outside a rustic cabin, the portal of Bethlehem, with the child in her arms. The image of Mary is monumental, with a wide black dress that highlights the Child's whitish skin; one timemore Mary appears as the throne of her Son, an iconography often repeated since the Middle Ages.

In front of the Virgin and Jesus we find Melchor, representing Asia, who kneels down to leave on the ground a small statue made of gold that represents the scene of the Sacrifice of Isaac. Next to him, King Gaspar representing the European continent, carries a plate with a lot of incense, in his attire you can see a scene from the Old Testament that has the Queen of Sheba as the protagonist. Lastly, B altasar appears, offering the myrrh that he carries in a spherical container in which we see a scene from King David represented. With the figures of the three wise men, the universality of Christ's message is alluded to, just as the scenes of the Old Testament are the confirmation of the ancient prophecies that have been fulfilled with the arrival of Jesus.

But a scene that at first might seem kind and calm has become something disturbing under the brushes of the Flemish painter, so Hieronymus Bosch surrounds the main scene with strange characters and scenes. On the cabin that serves as a portal we see some strange shepherds who look too curious. But these are not the only strange characters, a whole court looks out from behind the cabin. It includes a male character with an oriental appearance who has a strange face and who has been identified with Herod.

On the other hand, the lateral panels represent Saint Joseph together with his Son and Saint Inés with one of the clients.

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