The Three Kings journeyed to Bethlehem to honour the new-born Jesus. They followed a star (towards the left, at the top), and brought gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. New Testament (Matthew 2: 2-12). The accompanying figures to the right are the kings' retinue. The figure on the left, perhaps in penitential garb, might be the donor.The retinue of the kings is striking for the Oriental costumes that are depicted. This has been related to Giovanni Bellini's brother Gentile's visit to Constantinople in 1479-81.
The painting, very damaged and much darkened, is distinctive in its interpretation of the story.