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Collections | Medieval & Renaissance Manuscripts

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Adoration of Magi

Adoration of the Magi, in an initial E
Leaf from a Gradual (I), in Latin.
Italy, Florence, Santa Maria degli Angeli, 1392–99
Illuminated by an assistant of Don Silvestro dei Gherarducci for Paolo Venier, abbot of San Michele à Murano
590 x 400mm
Purchased by Pierpont Morgan, 1909; MS M.653.5
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The Roman numeral XLVI at the top of the leaf indicates it was originally folio 46 of the Gradual. The initial E begins the Introit to the Mass for Epiphany, which is celebrated on 6 January: Ecce advenit Dominator Dominus (Behold the Lord the Ruler is come). The eldest Magus kisses but does not touch—his hands are covered—the feet of Christ, an event described in the thirteenth-century mystical text known as the Meditations on the Life of Christ. It was Tertullian (ca. 160–230), the Christian writer, who transformed the Magi into kings. Later, as here, they were also differentiated by age and given halos. In the background an attendant tries to calm the camels. The journey of the Magi is depicted in the lower border.

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The programs of The Morgan Library & Museum are made possible with public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, and by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.

Background images: Photography by Todd Eberle unless otherwise noted. © 2006 Todd Eberle.