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Rubens: The Adoration of the Magi

Rubens: The Adoration of the Magi


In 1609 Rubens signalled his return to Antwerp with a prestigious commission to paint a large Adoration of the Magi for the Town Hall, a picture designed to inaugurate and celebrate the Twelve Years' Truce between Spain and the rebellious Netherlands. In the subsequent tormented politics of the time, the picture was used as a bribe by Antwerp in an attempt to gain favour with the King of Spain, who then acquired the picture on the disgrace of the intermediary. Rubens, arriving at the Spanish court in 1628, repainted, extended and refashioned the picture to his own satisfaction (incorporating a self-portrait). The picture in due course passed from royal possession to the Prado in Madrid.

The Prado Adoration of the Magi is thus not only a most important work in the painter's career, but incorporates a dialogue by the painter with himself. The picture has been newly conserved, and following the dialogue has been made easier by the existence of a copy in a private collection of the 1609 version of the much altered work. It has been the fascinating task of Prado curator Alejandro Vergara and the Prado conservation department to investigate the changes Rubens made and their motivation, while Joost vander Auwara provides a new analysis, employing new documents and rereading known ones, of the intentions and iconography of the original Antwerp commission.

The book is very beautifully produced and illustrated with a multitude of splendid details of the Adoration and a wealth of comparative material. This English edition has been produced in association with the Museo del Prado, Madrid.

  • Edited by Alejandro Vergara

    244 pages, paperback

    280 x 240 mm, 90 colour illustrations + 3 fold-outs
    ISBN: 978 1 903470 39 8

  • Contributors

    Joost vander Auwara, Herlinda Cabrero, Carmen Garrido, Alejandro Vergara and others

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