The Adoration of the Kings – Jan Gossaerts (1510-15)
This colourful Christmas tree decoration of an altarpiece was painted for an abbey near Brussels and is evidently not intended to be ascetic.
The Magi who journeyed from the east to give gifts to the newborn Messiah gave wealthy people in Renaissance Europe reason to hope their riches made them virtuous.
Contrary to the early Christian message that it’s easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than a rich man to enter heaven, Gossaerts gratifies the rich by showing how they can use their treasures to adore Christ.
The superb deep blue of the sky, the reddish ruins in which Christ has been born and the green, pink, blue and gold robes of angels and mortals all add to a chromatic carol of joy and jubilation.•