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On Two Overlooked Details in ­Leonardo da Vinci’s Adoration of the Magi

Livio Pestilli

Online veröffentlicht:

16 Sep 2020



This article focuses on two features of Leonardo’s Adoration of the Magi made more readable after its restoration: the old man behind the Virgin and the object painted in front of him. In contrast to previous interpretations, it is argued that the old man does not represent St. Joseph. Rather, it is St. Donatus, patron saint of the Canons Regular of St. Augustine who commissioned the altarpiece for their church of San Donato a Scopeto. If, as argued, the garment he wears is a chasuble, the object in front of him a wine vat and the vessel he holds a pyx, then the painting referenced both the theme of the Adoration of the Magi and the patron saint’s miracle of the mass while telescoping in a visual prolepsis the beginning and the end of the Christ Child’s redeeming mission.

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