The Magi Journeying (Les rois mages en voyage)
Complementing the narrative of the venerations by the humble shepherds, the Magi, guided by a moving star, traveled separately from their individual lands in the east in search of the newborn Jesus. Tissot depicts the Magi at the moment when their retinues meet in the vast, arid landscape of the volcanic hills on the shores of the Dead Sea between Jericho, the Kedron Valley, and Jerusalem. In his commentary, the artist notes that their flowing saffron robes—a luxurious counterpoint to the simple woolens of the shepherds— signal their status as astronomers.
Typically described as wise men and kings, the Magi present the Christ Child with gold, frankincense, and myrrh. In the series of watercolors, the Magi’s visit to the grotto inexplicably appears after the presentation in the Temple, representing one of the curious inconsistencies in Tissot’s construction of his Gospel harmony.
Opaque watercolor over graphite on gray wove paper
Image: 7 15/16 x 11 1/2 in. (20.2 x 29.2 cm)
Sheet: 7 15/16 x 11 1/2 in. (20.2 x 29.2 cm)
Frame: 15 x 20 x 1 1/2 in. (38.1 x 50.8 x 3.8 cm) (show scale)
Signed bottom right: "J.J. Tissot"
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James Tissot (French, 1836-1902). The Magi Journeying (Les rois mages en voyage), 1886-1894. Opaque watercolor over graphite on gray wove paper, Image: 7 15/16 x 11 1/2 in. (20.2 x 29.2 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Purchased by public subscription, 00.159.30 (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 00.159.30_PS1.jpg)
overall, 00.159.30_PS1.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2006
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