Pen and brown ink, brush and brown wash; traces of transfer
Sheet: 20.3 x 15.9 cm (8 x 6 1/4 in.)
Mr. and Mrs. Richard W. Whitehill Art Purchase Endowment Fund 2019.232
In this depiction of the adoration of the magi, the magi furthest back is portrayed as African, a not uncommon but by no means universal 16th-century interpretation of the magi’s origins.
The drawing is a print design made to be translated to a copperplate in the city of Antwerp in the late 16th century. De Vos’s closely cropped composition brings the three magi as well as Joseph into close contact with the seated Virgin and Child. The elaborate vessels carried by the magi, including a footed nautilus cup, a silver dish, and what could be a coconut cup, are the types of exotic treasures that would have been collected by Antwerp’s wealthy inhabitants signifying their contact with foreign lands. The magi furthest back is portrayed as African, a not uncommon but by no means universal interpretation of the magi’s origins.
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