A Masterpiece of International Gothic Style: Adoration of the Magi by Gentile da Fabriano

Sun, 01/04/2015 - 03:00
Adoration of the Magi by Gentile da Fabriano

Adoration of the Magi or Pala Strozzi (1422), altarpiece by Gentile da Fabriano (1370- 1427), Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence.

Originally placed in the church of Santa Trinità, the work was commissioned for Palla di Nofri Strozzi, then the richest man in Florence and a member of one of the city’s most prominent families.

Gentile’s Adoration is festive and imbued with an elegant courtly grace. The scene is rich in luxurious brocaded garments and exotic animals. Gentile uses bright colours and lavish amounts of tooled gold to glaze the image with a shimmer of romantic fantasy. There is a remarkable sense of depth in the image and yet, despite all the interest and joyful animation, the narrative focus is captured by the tiny Christ child leaning forward to touch the head of the old King.

Gentile’s exquisite style is private in nature; though the altarpiece was mounted in a place of public worship, the elaborate painting, along with the sumptuously vaulted frame convey the social eminence of the patron.