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The Adoration of the Magi : Salisbury (St.Thomas), Wiltshire (‡Salisbury [Sarum]) Late C.15

Photo: T.Marshall Adoration of the Magi, Salisbury (St. Thomas) [50KB]

A companion piece to the painting of the Visitation and the Annunciation in the Lady Chapel of the church. Like those, it is very high on the wall, and hard to photograph. There is an un-English look about the painting, which might mean that it has been copied - from a German or Flemish manuscript illustration, I suspect. Scholars in the past have suggested a Dutch or Flemish source for the Doom in the church, so this is likely.
All three Magi are grouped at the left, the youngest, in a short tunic and red hose, standing. One of the others kneels, and a third stands behind, still wearing his red and (once) gold crown. Mary, with Joseph behind Christ Child inrayed aureole, Adoration of the Magi, Salisbury St. Thomas [18KB]her, kneels similarly at the right.

The Christ Child is in the centre (photo, right), with, in the main picture, the ox and the ass just visible looking on in the background. He is painted in an aureole of rayed light, in accordance with a convention established by the popularising of the visions of St. Bridget of Sweden, in one of which she describes how she saw the Virgin Mary worshipping her infant Son, who radiated an ‘ineffable light and splendour’¹. The crown below him has probably been placed there in reverence by the kneeling king, and may represent the gold element of the Magi’s gifts.

The Annunciation at Salisbury St. Thomas will be on here soon, and the Doom will join it eventually.

¹St Bridget of Sweden (1307-73). In 1370 she went to Bethlehem, and her vision of the Incarnation dates from then. One of the earliest painted examples is a late 14th century fresco in Sta. Maria Novella, Florence.

Website for St Thomas Becket, Salisbury

Links to other 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. 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 Annunication to Shepherds, Hardham, Sussex NEW

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Anne Marshall 2001