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The Magi Journeying (Les rois mages en voyage)

James Tissot

European Art

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.
MEDIUM Opaque watercolor over graphite on gray wove paper
  • Place Made: France
  • DATES 1886-1894
    DIMENSIONS 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)
    SIGNATURE Signed bottom right: "J.J. Tissot"
    COLLECTIONS European Art
    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
    ACCESSION NUMBER 00.159.30
    CREDIT LINE Purchased by public subscription
    RIGHTS STATEMENT No known copyright restrictions
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    CAPTION 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
    IMAGE overall, 00.159.30_PS1.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2006
    "CUR" at the beginning of an image file name means that the image was created by a curatorial staff member. These study images may be digital point-and-shoot photographs, when we don\'t yet have high-quality studio photography, or they may be scans of older negatives, slides, or photographic prints, providing historical documentation of the object.
    RECORD COMPLETENESS Best (88%)
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