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The Adoration of the Magi Flemish

In the Adoration of the Magi the infant Christ is worshipped by three wise men or kings from the East, who bring him gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh, symbolizing kingship, divinity and suffering. In art this event is an opportunity to contrast Christ's innocence, and the modest status of his parents, with a display of worldly wealth in the persons of kings. Their sumptuous costume in this unusually large and finely carved alabaster relief is consistent with a date of c.1540. The presence of a rosary, not normally associated with the Adoration of the Magi, but an attribute of St Dominic, whose Order promoted its use, suggests that the relief was made for a Dominican church. The origin of the relief is debateable. On stylistic grounds it appears to be Flemish, but the initials A.H. (by the Virgin's foot) do not conform to those of a known sculptor working in Mechelen, the chief centre for alabaster carving in the Southern Netherlands.