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Adoration of the Magi

Artist Abraham Bloemaert (Dutch, 1566–1651)
Title Adoration of the Magi
Date 1624
Medium Oil on canvas
Dimensions Framed: 80 × 101 1/2 × 4 in. (203.2 × 257.8 × 10.2 cm)
Stretcher: 72 1/4 x 93 1/4 in. (183.5 x 236.9 cm)
Credit Line Eskenazi Museum of Art, Indiana University
Accession Number 90.63

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About this Work

Abraham Bloemaert was a leading painter in Utrecht, a Catholic city in predominantly Protestant Holland. In his depiction of the three magi adoring the Christ Child, the red and gold bishop’s cope worn by Caspar, the oldest magus, emphasizes the city’s Catholic identity. A similar cope belonging to David of Burgundy, who served as Bishop of Utrecht from 1456 to 1496, was on display at Saint John’s Cathedral in the city. The background figures wear contemporary Dutch dress, which helped connect the painting’s viewers to the scene. Another version of this painting—minus the three figures at the extreme right—is in the collection of the Centraal Museum of Utrecht.

1990, Indiana University Art Museum purchase from Spencer A. Samuels Gallery, New York

ca. 1976–1990, Spencer A. Samuels Gallery, New York [1]

1974–1975, Schweitzer Gallery, New York [2]

September 13, 1973, Sale, Collection of St. John’s College, Cleveland, Ohio [3]

1966–1973, Collection of St. John’s College, Cleveland (by bequest of Edward F. Hoban) [4]

ca. 1948–1966, Collection of Edward F. Hoban (1878–1966), Cleveland, Ohio (presumably purchased from Parke-Bernet Galleries) [5]

January 22, 1948, Sale, “Barbizon and other XIX Century Paintings,” Parke-Bernet Galleries, New York (lot no. 79, reproduced)

ca. 1938?–1948, Collection of Dr. Silvain S. Brunschwig (1882–1970), Switzerland and New York [6]

Probably: ca. 1861–ca. 1886, Private Collection, Frankfurt am Main [7]


[1] Per invoice dated 10 December 1990 from Spencer A. Samuels Gallery in registration files.

[2] Per undated information provided by Spencer A. Samuels Gallery in curatorial files.

[3] Date of sale listed in Marcel G. Roethlisberger, Abraham Bloemaert and his Sons: Paintings and Print, vol. 1 (Doornspijk, NL: Davaco: 1993), entry no. 587, p. 256.

[4] Bequest confirmed in a letter dated March 18, 1977, from Stuart Greenspan, an employee of Spencer A. Samuels, to Verna Curtis, assistant curator at the Milwaukee Art Center, where the painting was exhibited that year (email correspondence dated March 29, 2023, with archivist Anthony Morgano of Milwaukee Art Museum Research Center).

[5] Marcel G. Roethlisberger, Abraham Bloemaert and his Sons: Paintings and Print, vol. 1 (Doornspijk, NL: Davaco: 1993), entry no. 587, p. 256. Hoban was sixth Bishop of the Diocese of Cleveland from 1945 to 1966.

[6] As per Roethlisberger, cat. no. 587. Brunschwig, a Swiss-born attorney, is best known as a collector of Renaissance books and manuscripts. In March 1938, Brunschwig had a painting imported from the Netherlands to Switzerland which was attributed at the time to Van Dyck and described in export license documents as a “Worship of Three Magi.” He then had the painting shipped from Switzerland to New York, where he worked as an attorney (source: declassified record of export license granted to Brunschwig on September 10, 1941, reference no. T 713/36/58, National Archives and Records Administration). There is, however, good reason to believe that this is the Eskenazi’s painting by Bloemaert, to whom this painting was only later attributed, and whose paintings have often been misattributed in older scholarship to his contemporaries, including van Dyck, as well as Rubens. The current scholarship on Van Dyck moreover indicates no record of oil paintings with this motif that were ever in American collections or which carry a Brunschwig provenance (see Susan Barnes et al., Van Dyck: A Complete Catalogue of the Paintings, New Haven, CT: Yale, 2004, various entries).

[7] Multiple labels on the verso indicate that the painting was in Frankfurt during this period, where it was also framed, suggesting a local provenance in the late 1800s.

Provenance research is ongoing for this and many other items in the Eskenazi Museum of Art permanent collection. For more information about the provenance of this artwork, please contact the department curator with specific questions.

April 2–June 29, 2014, "Francesco Solimena: Representing the World in the Royal Palace of Naples," Indiana University Art Museum, Bloomington, IN

January 29, 1992, "A Golden Year," Indiana University Art Museum, Bloomington, IN

December 18, 1990–January 16, 1991, "The Story of the Nativity in Art," Indiana University Art Museum, Bloomington, IN

June 3, 1977–July 31, 1977, "Collecting the Masters," Milwaukee Art Center, Milwaukee, WI (now Milwaukee Art Museum) [1]


[1] This date of this exhibition is errantly recorded as 1947 in the catalogue raisonne of Bloemart's paintings. The lender was the Spencer A. Samuels Gallery. A letter dated March 18 from Stuart Greenspan, a gallery employee, to assistant curator Verna Curtis of the Milwaukee Art Center: "To the best of my knowledge, [...] the Bloemaert has [n]ever been exhibited" (Information supplied by archivist Anthony Morgano, Milwaukee Art Museum Research Center, March 28, 2023).

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"Adoration of the Magi | Collections Online." Collections Online. Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Museum of Art, Indiana University, 2024.