Object Image

The Adoration of the Kings

Unusually, Dosso has set the Adoration of the Kings at night, which provided opportunities for the flickering brushwork for which he is noted. The huge harvest moon with a pink aureole, traversed by storm clouds, casts a mysterious golden light that picks out features of the fortified town in the background.

On the left-hand side of the scene is what looks like a cave, but is in fact architecture covered by vegetation. This is the artist's version of the ruined arch - a common symbol in scenes of the Nativity, representing the decline of the old and the coming of a new age. The dramatic moon gives the scene a portentous feel; at the time the painting was made, such meterological effects were f...

c. 1527-9
Oil on wood
85.1 x 108.0cm
Image and text © The National Gallery, London, 2023

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