November 12, 2009

Pieter Aertsen: The Adoration of the Magi (ca. 1560); Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

It’s difficult to choose, but in the end my favourite is probably a somewhat older painting (c. 1560) by the painter Pieter Aertsen, The Adoration of the Magi. Originally, Aertsen was an Amsterdam based artist, but he moved to and worked in Antwerp for a while. This painting was made as a centrepiece for a triptych, an altarpiece. Off course the theme isn’t very original at all, but I extremely like the composition, the subtle and colourful way in which the figures are presented and, above all, the strange, ruinous environment. These ruins are meant as the old palace of King David, a distant ancestor of Jesus, and symbolize the Old World (i.e. the Jewish or pagan world) whereas the newborn child off course represents the New World or Law.