The Master of Pedret (attrib.), The Virgin and Child in Majesty and the Adoration of the Magi

Catalonia, end of the 11th century
Fresco transferred to canvas
The Cloisters, New York

Inside the mandorla the Virgin and Child are pictured as in "Throne of Wisdom" sculptures: Mary sitting on a throne and serving as the throne for the child, who in turn holds a scroll. (In other examples it is a book.) As usual, Mary wears a red robe and a blue mantle. The child's blessing gesture has the index and middle fingers raised while the thumb presses against the other two fingers.

The Magi's offerings are represented as pearl-size objects in wide bowls. Camps y Montserrat (78) has another Catalan Adoration of the Magi fresco of this period with the same objects in the same bowls. As is common in earlier works, the men's hands are covered by the skirts of their mantles. Inscriptions identify the mage on the left as MELCHIOR and the one on the farther right as gaspar. The three vary in age. Melchior's beard is white, Balthasar's is red, and Gaspar has no beard and a smoother complexion. The inverted flower-pot shape of their headgear is unlike either the crowns that will become common in the 12th century or the Phrygian caps customary in the early centuries.

At the extreme left and right are the archangels Michael and Gabriel. They are pictured in the old style, as imperial courtiers holding military standards.

A slightly later apse fresco in Catalonia (circa 1123) simplifies the composition by removing the angels and making the Magi only slightly shorter than the mandorla (Camps y Montserrat, 72, 76).

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Photographed at the Cloisters by Richard Stracke, shared under Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license.