The Three Kings have sought out the Child Jesus in the stable where he was born. They bear gifts (gold, frankincense and myrrh) and have journeyed from the East. New Testament (Matthew 2: 10-12). The stable at Bethlehem is attached to the ruins of a great classical building with a triumphal arch in the background. Across the foreground the kings and their attendants are presented with grandeur. Angels appear in the sky, along the ray of light by the side of the arch.
The picture is dated 1573 in Roman numerals on the lowest step (bottom right). It was painted for the church of San Silvestro in Venice, where it remained until the church was altered in the 19th century. It was not an altarpiece but a large painting for the wall of the nave beside the altar of the confraternity dedicated to Saint Joseph. The dominant diagonal, formed by a beam of heavenly light, is echoed in the architecture and by the line of the adoring figures on the left.
The Virgin and Child are at the intersection of this diagonal with another. Colour is based on the mid-tone grey of the architecture, used also to describe the silvery light. Veronese avoids pure reds and blues.
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The Adoration of the Kings Print
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