Oil painting of the three Magi presenting gifts to the Christ Child who is seated on the Virgin Mary's lap.
Juan Carreño de Miranda (1614–1685), The Adoration of the Magi, mid 1660s. Photo © National Gallery of Ireland.Credit

The Adoration of the Magi, by Juan Carreño de Miranda (1614–1685)

Mid 1660s
157 x 237 cm (unframed), 162 x 241 cm (framed)
Oil on canvas
Purchased, 2020

In the Western Christian calendar, 6 January marks Epiphany, which commemorates the first encounter between the Three Kings (or Magi) and the newborn Christ. It is a holiday of particular significance in Spain, where it is known as el Día de Los Reyes Magos.

This newly acquired painting by Spanish artist Juan Carreño de Miranda illustrates the Kings’ visit, carrying gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. In a naturalistic rendering of a familiar biblical scene, Carreño delights in the depiction of the luxurious robes of the Magi, paying close attention to the play of light across their silks, ermines, jewels, and turbans, and creating a feast of texture. In the centre, Melchior holds a nautilus cup, made from a rare seashell found in the Indo-West Pacific.