Adoration of the Wise Men relief

Glencairn Museum

Glencairn Museum
Bryn Athyn, United States

This limestone relief featuring the Adoration of the Wise Men was made in 14th-century France. It illustrates how these travelers came from the east in search of the Christ Child. According to the Gospel of Matthew, “when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshiped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh” (2:11). In the center of the relief, Mary and the Child are seated on a throne. The three Wise Men, all crowned, are approaching from the left, with the foremost kneeling down to present his gift.

A winged angel stands at the left, behind the third Wise Man. At the far left is a crowned king, seated and holding a harp; this is likely King David, who in the Middle Ages was believed to be the author of the Book of Psalms (sacred songs). To the right of the central scene is another winged angel, this time accompanied by a woman; this no doubt represents the Annunciation to Mary. The meaning of the other scenes is unclear. During the construction of Glencairn, Raymond Pitcairn set this relief into the west wall of the Great Hall, where it remains today.


  • Title: Adoration of the Wise Men relief
  • Location Created: France
  • Physical Dimensions: 2 x 15 1/4 x 78 3/4 in. (5.1 x 38.7 x 200 cm)
  • Medium: Limestone
  • Date: 13th century
  • Collection: Medieval
  • Accession Number: 09.SP.85

Get the app

Explore museums and play with Art Transfer, Pocket Galleries, Art Selfie, and more

Flash this QR Code to get the app
Google apps