Gentile da Fabriano, The Adoration of the Magi, 1423, tempera paint and gold on panel, 80
Happy Epiphany Day!
Epiphany, the church festival that celebrates the visit of the three Wise Men twelve days after the birth of Jesus, was for centuries the most important festival of the Christian year because it is the event that marks the revelation of the Christian savior to the world. Because of this, there are many examples of this subject in art throughout the centuries, but perhaps the most splendid is the Adoration of the Magi by Gentile da Fabriano created in 1423. This northern Italian artist used real gold set off by saturated jewel tones to paint this vast composition filled with pilgrims who trekked to Bethlehem to see the infant savior. Only the banker Palla Strozzi, the wealthiest man in Florence in the early 15th century, could have afforded to commission this elaborate altarpiece for which he paid six times the going rate for a work of art.