Adoration of the Magi

This panel painting, which was completed shortly after 1521 in Antwerp, originally hung in Bethlehem Abbey near Charleville in France and only came to Cologne Cathedral in 1959. The central scene of the Adoration of the Magi in the foreground is flanked on either side by images of the painting’s donors, Philipp of Nevers and his wife Maria of Roye, with their daughter Françoise. They are depicted being presented to the Madonna by their patron saints. In the background, various events that either preceded or followed the birth of Christ, are depicted against the backdrop of a detailed and very realistic landscape. The painting’s detailed background, which bears the hallmarks of illumination in the Late Middle Ages, is structured by the clear arrangement of the foreground that is so typical of Renaissance painting. There is evidence in the painting that the artist was influenced by the early works of the Flemish painter Jan Gossaert.