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Title Adoration of the Magi
Collection Victoria Art Gallery, Bath
Artist Attributed to circle of Goes, Hugo van der (early Netherlandish painter, ca.1440-1482)
Date Earliest probably about 1460
Date Latest possibly about 1500
Description The Virgin appears three-quarter length at the centre of the compressed composition, framed by a cloth of honour. She presents the naked infant on a white cloth, perhaps a reference to the sacrament of the Eucharist. To the left, the oldest of the Magi kneels to worship the child. Joseph appears to the right of the composition, cap in hand. Behind him are the ox and ass, and an abbreviated landscape background framed by the rudimentary structure of the stable. In the distance are mounted figures and camels, perhaps the entourage of the Magi, with the star above.
Current Accession Number BATVG:P:1900.19
Former Accession Number A18
Subject animal (camel, horse, ox, ass); religion (adoration of the Magi, Holy family, Epiphany, Virgin and Child, St Joseph); landscape
Measurements 43.3 x 72.3 cm cm (estimate)
Material tempera on panel (hardwood {oak})
Acquisition Details Given by the executors of Mons. James Shepherd, before 1900.
Provenance Collection of Conolly family, Midford Castle, by 1871; bequeathed by Mrs Jane Conolly to Mons. Charles Parfitt, Prior Park, Bath, 1871; bequeathed (?) by Mons. Charles Parfitt to Mons. James Shepherd, Prior Park, Bath, 1886.
Principal Exhibitions Early Flemish and Modern Belgian Painting, Guildhall, London, 1906, cat. no. 14); Bath Assembly Exhibition, Victoria Art Gallery, Bath, 1948; L'Art Flamand dans les Collections Britanniques et la Galerie Nationale de Victoria, Bruges, 1956; We Three Kings: The Magi in Art and Legend, Buckinghamshire County Museum, 1995-96, cat. no. 19.
Publications Destrée, J., 'An Adoration of the Magi by Hans Memlinc', Connoisseur, X, Nov. 1904, pp. 182-84, and idem., XII, June 1905, pp. 88-92; Conway, M., 'A picture by Hugo van der Goes at Bath', Burlington Magazine, XXXI, August 1917, p. 45; How to look at Pictures, Bath, 1918, pp. 10-11; Catalogue of Pictures: Exhibition of Pictures in the Possession of the Corporation of the City of Bath, Bath, 1948, p. 20; L'Art Flamand dans les Collections Britanniques et la Galerie Nationale de Victoria, Bruges, 1956; Winkler, F., Das Werk des Hugo van der Goes, Berlin, 1964, pp. 207-11; figs. 167-71; Friedländer, M.J., Early Netherlandish Painting, Leyden & Brussels, 1967-76, IV, pp. 38-9 & 72, no. 21a, plate 35, fig. 21a; Van Schoute, R., 'Le dessin de peintre chez Hugo van der Goes: La Mort de la Vièrge du Musée Groeninge de Bruges, l' Adoration des Mages, de la Victoria Art Gallery de Bath', Revue des archéologues et historiens d'art de Louvain, V, 1972, pp. 59-66; Wright, C., Old Master Paintings in Britain: An Index of Continental Old Master Paintings executed before c.1800 in Public Collections in the United Kingdom, London, 1976, p. 79; Ringbom, S., Icon to Narrative: The Rise of the Dramatic Close-Up in Fifteenth Century Devotional Painting, 2nd edition, Doornspijk, 1984, p. 100; Sloman, S., Victoria Art Gallery: Concise Catalogue of Paintings and Drawings, Bath, 1991, p. 108; Sander, J., Hugo van der Goes: Stilentwicklung und Chronologie, Mainz, 1992, p. 255, n. 58; We Three Kings: The Magi in Art and Legend, Aylesbury, 1995, p. 15 (fig.), p. 24, cat. no. 19.
Notes

In correspondence dated 1990, Lorne Campbell agreed that this work and the related composition (formerly in Madrid) were correctly attributed to the ‘Circle of Hugo van der Goes'. He added that there is no evidence that these compositions are copies after a hypothetical lost work by Goes, as suggested in some literature including Friedländer.

A related composition, described as inferior in some literature, was formerly in the Don Juan de Valencia Collection, Madrid (illustrated in Friedländer, IV, pl. 21 b).

Mons. James Shepherd was a master at the Catholic college of Prior Park, Bath, and author of Reminiscences of Prior Park (London, 1894). The Victoria Art Gallery's collection of works from Midford Castle near Bath was bequeathed or given to Shepherd by another master at the college, Mons. Charles Parfitt. The Midford Castle estate had been bequeathed to Parfitt by Mrs Jane Conolly, a bequest which was unsuccessfully contested by Mrs Conolly's nephew in 1871-72. It is uncertain if the collection was originally accumulated by Mrs Conolly's late husband, the eminent barrister Charles Conolly, or whether, as is traditionally supposed, it came into the family by the marriage of his son to the Italian Marchesa Luisa di Sant' Agata.

Rights Owner Victoria Art Gallery, Bath
Author Dr Susan Steer
 

 

 

 

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