The Christ Child sits on his mother's lap within the ruins of a castle, before a townscape. The Virgin rests on a stone manger, while Joseph descends a stairway at the left. The Magi proceed to pay homage and a crowd of onlookers peer in at the right. Caspar kneels before the Virgin (the ox and the ass can be seen above his head); a little further back Melchior prepares to make his offering; and Balthazar enters the ruin from the right. In the town beyond people stand in the street and look up at the spectacle. New Testament (John 2: 1-2, 11)

This painting and the 'Lamentation' are similar in terms of style and dimensions, and are thought to be from the same altarpiece. Both panels appear to date from about 1515, and show similarities with the palette of Quinten Massys's paintings.


  • Title: Adoration of the Kings
  • Creator: Gerard David
  • Date Created: about 1515
  • Physical Dimensions: 60 x 59.2 cm
  • Type: Painting
  • Medium: Oil on oak
  • School: Netherlandish
  • More Info: Explore the National Gallery’s paintings online
  • Inventory number: NG1079
  • Artist Dates: active 1484; died 1523
  • Artist Biography: Gerard David was the last great 15th-century painter from Bruges working within the tradition of realism founded by van Eyck. A subtle colourist, he succeeds in creating atmosphere through his evocative landscapes. David's work suffered critical neglect for a long time, but is now highly regarded for its technical skill and gentle mysticism. He is thought to have come from Oudewater where he was probably trained by his artist father. The influence of Rogier van der Weyden is discernible in his work. He entered the painters' guild in Bruges in 1484 and was mainly active there, becoming the leading painter after the death of Memling ten years later. He shared with the other artists from Bruges a concern for precise characterisation and the depiction of the minute details of objects. This makes his pictures rewarding to examine closely.
  • Acquisition Credit: Bequeathed by Mrs Joseph H. Green, 1880

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