Adoration of the Magi

Rome After Raphael
January 22 through May 9, 2010

Circle of Raphael
Adoration of the Magi, ca. 1520
Pen and brown ink, brown wash, heightened with white gouache, over faint traces of black chalk.
11 1/16 x 20 7/8 inches (281 x 530 mm)
Purchased by J. Pierpont Morgan; acc. no. IV, 29a

In addition to the Acts of the Apostles series for the Sistine Chapel, Raphael received a commission for a second set of tapestries, this one to illustrate the Life of Christ. In all likelihood, Pope Leo X Medici (reigned 1513–21) initiated this project, and most of the designs were probably completed during his papacy. Often considered the most successful of the group, the tapestry of the Adoration of the Magi, which is based on the present drawing, has the strongest claim of having been designed during Raphael's lifetime. Modern scholarship has assigned to Giovanni Francesco Penni (1496?–ca.1528) a number of finished drawings from Raphael's workshop, including, on occasion, the present study.