(b. ca. 1399, Siena, d. 1482, Siena)

The Adoration of the Magi

c. 1462
Tempera and gold on wood, 27 x 23 cm
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

The Adoration of the Magi takes place high in the mountains; the figures derive from Gentile da Fabriano's courtly magi, though a more intimate note is struck when the young King reassures the ever-bewildered Joseph, placing an arm around his shoulders and tenderly taking his hand. Behind the green alpine meadow and its calm pastoral air, however, we plunge suddenly down onto a patchwork plain of almost infinite extension - a quilt of palest blue and khaki, merging with the feathery sky, and painted with an atmospheric touch so delicate and limpid that it challenges the work of his great Venetian contemporaries.