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The Adoration of the Magi

Although his specific identity is unknown, the artist referred to as the Master of the Holy Kinship was one of the most prominent artists working in Cologne around 1500. He supervised a large workshop, which produced paintings and altarpieces for the local nobility and religious institutions. Cologne’s geographic proximity to the Low Countries likely had an influence on the Master’s style, which reveals his strong familiarity with fifteenth-century Netherlandish oil painting by artists such as Jan van Eyck and Hugo van der Goes. Like those artists, the Master’s work is characterized by vivid colors, a meticulous attention to detail, crowded compositions, and a steep perspective.

The two panels at the Eskenazi Museum of Art—the Adoration of the Magi and The Resurrection—once formed the inner wings of a triptych, and would only have been seen on holy days when the altarpiece was opened. The central panel of the altarpiece depicts the Crucifixion and is now in the Musée des Beaux-Arts, Brussels. The two exterior panels depict the Annunciation with Saints Bartholomew and Peter, and they would have been seen whenever the triptych was closed; these are now in private hands. The altarpiece is believed to have been produced for the Church of St. Martinus in Richterich, a small town near Aachen.

Attributed to the Master of the Holy Kinship
German, active ca. 1475–ca. 1515
The Adoration of the Magi
ca. 1490
Oil on panel
53¾ x 37 in. (136.5 x 94.0 cm)
Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Museum of Art, Given in memory of Marguerite Lilly Noyes by Thomas T. Solley, 78.62.1