(b. 1394, Siena, d. 1450, Siena)

The Journey of the Magi

c. 1435
Tempera and gold on wood, 21,6 x 29,9 cm
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

This panel showing the three Magi and their retinue on their way to Bethlehem was originally the upper part of a small Adoration of the Magi now in the Palazzo Chigi-Saraceni in Siena. (The upper edge of the stable roof is just visible along the bottom right edge.) Sassetta was one of the most enchanting narrative painters of the 15th century, and although this picture is only a fragment, it is one of his most popular works. He has imagined the magis' journey as a contemporary pageant, including fashionably attired figures and courtly details such as the hunting falcon on a man's arm and the monkey riding on the back of a donkey. The ostriches on the hill symbolize the miraculous birth of Christ.