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The Adoration of the Magi/Joseph's Dream/Dream of the Magi: Hardham, Sussex (‡Chichester) C.12

Photos:T.Marshall

‘...And being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way’
Adoration of the Magi, Hardham (367KB)

Reading from the left, and after the painted border common to all the scenes in the nave at Hardham, two Magi, wearing the tall hats common to other early scenes on this site, stand waiting to pay homage to the Christ Child and his mother. A third Magus, very faint and difficult to see, is kneeling on one knee, his inclined head just below a window. At the right of the painting, the Virgin Mary sits below an illusionistic pointed canopy, holding the rather large Christ Child on her knee, his feet dangling. Both Mary and the Child have haloes, which should help to locate them. The Christ Child may be extending a hand in blessing.

Above, Joseph's Dream/Below, Dream of the Magi, Hardham (159KB)Further right along this wall is a painting demonstrating this painter’s ability to organise space and themes economically. Here are two dreams - in the upper section of the photograph at the right is Joseph's Dream, the incident narrated in Matthew 2:13 in which Joseph is warned to flee to Egypt with his family. The angel, a human shape until waist level, but dissolving into waving clouds thereafter, hovers over the sleeping Joseph, extending a long, thin index finger. Below is the Dream of the Magi very faint indeed now, but once showing a similar angel (just detectable under the lefthand arch) and all three Magi sharing a bed, as at Wissington in Sufffolk.

As in virtually every remaining medieval painting of the subject, the unspeakably horrible Massacre of the Innocents is not backed away from, and the Hardham rendering of it is actually a rather fine example. At the left, beyond a painted arch, a figure in a short whitish tunic holds up by one leg a very young child, despite the entreaties of a woman in a red robe who kneels at his feet. Further right, a similarly dressed man drags either a child or its distraught mother by the hair.

Massacre of the Innocents, Hardham (258KB)

The next scene in narrative order is the Flight into Egypt, and this will be here at the next update, early in 2012. Links to other Infancy scenes are in the table at the bottom of this page.

Website for Hardham church

Links to Infancy Scenes
Annunciation to the Shepherds/Nativity, Ashampstead, Berkshire Nativity, Corby Glen, Lincs King Herod, with two Magi and other Nativity scenes, Corby Glen, Lincolnshire Nativity/Annunciation to the Shepherds, Wissington, Suffolk Adoration of the Magi, Black Bourton, Oxon.
Adoration of the Magi, Edstaston, Shropshire Nativity/Annunciation to the Shepherds, Faversham, Kent Adoration of the Magi/Presentation in the Temple, Faversham, Kent Adoration of the Magi, Heydon, Norfolk Adoration of the Magi, Pinvin, Worcs
Adoration of the Magi, Salisbury (St. Thomas) Wilts Adoration of the Shepherds/Magi, Thornham Parva, Suffolk Adoration of the Magi/Dream of the Magi, Wissington, Suffolk Three Magi, Burton Dassett, Warwicks. Nativity, with 2 curious Jews, Burton Dassett, Warwicks.
Massacre of the Innocents/Presentation in the Temple, Kelmscott, Oxon. Flight into Egypt, Croughton, Northants Miracle of the Clay Birds, Shorthampton, Oxon. Baptism of Christ, Black Bourton, Oxon. Infancy Cycle, Brook, Kent
Nativity scenes, with Annunciation to Shepherds, Hardham, Sussex Adoration of the Magi/Joseph's Dream/Dream of the Magi, Hardham, Sussex NEW