Adoration Of Magi
The painting "Adoration of the Magi" by di Nardo portrays the three Magi
approaching the baby Jesus and the Virgin Mary. However, there is much more to
it than just this familiar scene from Judeo-Christian lore. When approaching
this painting in order to analyze it iconographically, it is necessary to first
look at all aspects of the form. If this aspect is ignored, it provides for an
incomplete analysis of the painting. Once this is looked at, the iconography of
the painting becomes much clearer, and it is easier to compare the painting to
the actual biblical text from which it was derived (Gospel of St. Matthew 2:1
– 2:12). When approaching the painting the first thing I noticed was the odd
perspective. There are several vanishing points. Also, all of the figures seem
to be placed on one plane. Because of this, the two figures that represent Jesus
and Mary seem to be hovering weirdly above the ground. This, I believe, draws
the viewer’s attention to these two figures, since they are the main focus of
the painting. Due to the influence of my culture, I recognized the figures as

Jesus and Mary immediately. However, despite this, there are a few indicators as
to who the people represented in the painting are. When viewing the painting, it
is obvious that the figures of mother and child are the main point because the
gazes of all of the people in the represented center on the child, including the
mother’s. Also, the weird hovering effect also directs the viewer’s
attention to these two figures. Both Mary and Jesus have halos, but this is not
necessarily a distinguishing factor seeing as how there are also four other
figures in the painting that have halos. However, the halo that surrounds the
head of the baby Jesus has a slightly different pattern than those that the
other figures possess. This lets you know that for whatever reason, this child
is set apart from all other figures in the painting. So, even if the viewer is
of another culture or religion and doesn’t see the significance of the female
in the picture being clothed in blue and red, or the significance of the"blessing" position in which the baby is holding his hand, he can see that
for some reason, this child is being distinguished from all other people in the
painting. Another aspect of the form that draws your attention to the Virgin and

Jesus is the triangular set up of these two figures along with Joseph and
another Magus. The triangle that is formed has Mary and Jesus at the peak, yet
again, drawing the viewer’s attention to these two figures and reinforcing the
fact that they are of some significance. When comparing the painting to the text
in the Bible that describes the same meeting of the Magi with the baby Jesus and

Mary, there are several differences. There are certain things that I noticed
that not only go contrary to the painting, but to popular culture’s idea of
this story. First, in the Bible, the Magi are referred to as, chief priests and
teachers of the law. They were not "kings" as they are often referred to in

Christian culture. In fact, in di Nardo’s depiction, all of the Magi are
wearing crowns, showing this misunderstanding. Another thing that is assumed by
di Nardo in his painting, as well as by popular culture is that there were three

Magi. There is nothing mentioned in Matthew 2:1 – 2:12 that makes reference to
there being exactly three Magi. What I noticed that might have lead to this
misconception, however, is that the Magi brought gifts of "gold, incense and
myrrh." This is the only thing that I saw that could have lead to the belief
that there were three Magi – one Magus for each gift. There are also extra
people in the painting whom I could not identify. There is no mention of anyone
in the bible besides Jesus, Mary and the Magi. There is not even any mention of

Joseph who is clearly depicted. Also, the gifts that the Magi are holding in the
painting by di Nardo, are all the same and look as though they are gold, rather
than gold, incense and myrrh. Whether these are merely containers with the true
gifts inside of them, I do not know, but even if they are, this still strays
from the original biblical story, because it gives no mention of the gifts being
presented in golden cases. Another aspect that is different in di