Depictions of events surrounding the birth of the Christ child were extremely popular in the 17th century. The adoration of Christ by the three kings was a particularly loved theme. The kings serve as multiple symbols: the three ages of man, the three races of humanity and the world’s three then known continents. Melchior, with his white skin, represents Europe; the brown Balthazar, Asia and Caspar, depicted as a Moor, Africa. The symbolism is meant to illustrate that Christ is revealed to all humanity, young and old, and from every corner of the earth.


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