Museums and Art

“Adoration of the Magi”, Diego Velazquez - description of the painting

“Adoration of the Magi”, Diego Velazquez - description of the painting

Adoration of the Magi - Diego Velazquez. 204 x 126.5 cm

The plot of this picture has been used in painting repeatedly, probably there is not a single artist of that time who would not use Bible motifs in his work. “Adoration of the Magi” is one of the most popular biblical stories, which has been interpreted in many different ways. Velazquez is no exception. His painting is an author’s vision of the religious motive of worship, transferred by the artist to the realities of Spain in the 17th century.

As for the plot, everything is exactly the same as in the Bible: the baby Christ, Virgin Mary, Joseph and the three magicians who came to bow to the future Savior. But the image differs sharply from the canonical image: all the characters are dressed not in the style of the 1st century AD, typical of Judea at that time, but in the typical Spain of the 17th century.

This picture refers to the early period of the artist. There are still very deep dark shadows on it, many figures literally drown in the dark, but the perfectly matched harmonious colors shine brighter. Even in the work of the still young artist of the Seville period, skill is already felt. It was especially pronounced in the image of draperies and folds on the fabric. You can literally feel the smoothness and silkiness of the satin, the density of the woolen fabric on the clothes of St. Joseph and the severity of the draperies thrown over the kneeling magician.

The clothes of the characters and their location sets a certain rhythm of composition of the picture. The diagonal arrangement of the three main figures - the sorcerer on her knees and the seated Virgin Mary with the baby Christ on her knees - visually expands the space bounded by dense darkness in the background. Only the landscape seen in the distance in dark colors with low thunderclouds, most likely depicting Calvary Hill, adds a little airiness to this intensely filled and saturated composition.

The image of the baby Christ is also interesting here. Most artists performed work in the classical style, leaving the child a newborn. Old masters often portrayed the Savior as a miniature copy of an adult, but Velazquez took a different path. In his interpretation, Christ is a real little child, tightly swaddled according to the habits of that time. But the expression of his childish face is very serious, without a hint of infantile gaiety or abstraction - this child is not of this world.

The painting has a rich and rich color, excellent image quality and is the real pride of the Prado Museum, which stores most of the paintings of the great artist.


Watch the video: VELÁZQUEZ - Paintings by Diego Velázquez in the Museum of Fine Arts MFA, Boston, MA, US (January 2022).