Altar of St. Colomb. Center panel 138 x 153 cm, Side wings 138 x 70 cm
The master writes the magnificent triptych “Adoration of the Magi” (sometimes called the Altar of St. Columbus, after the church in which he was for a long time), dedicated to the birth of Christ. The artist placed biblical subjects in a real setting, mixing divine and earthly. Despite the fact that in accordance with church traditions, the picture is filled with many symbols, it seems very lively and spiritualized.
Read the altar from left to right, following the plan of the painter.
Left wing - The Annunciation, the strictest and most elevated part of the triptych. The simple decor of the room underlines the importance of what is happening. Archangel Gabriel conveys the message of young Mary, kneeling with a prayer book in her hands. A little bewildered, she carefully listens to his words.
The bright blue color of the girl’s clothes, the snow-white shades of the Messenger’s robe, the scarlet overflow of velvet curtains set off the soft, ethereal glow of Mary’s tender face. A white dove hovers in a stream of golden rays, a sign of the divine message, and a lily stands in a jug, a symbol of innocence and purity.
central part - Christmas, the most festive part of the altar. Bending her head slightly, the Mother of God admires her son lying on her lap. To her left, Joseph stood in reverence. The first to welcome the birth of Jesus are the three sorcerers who came after the Star of Bethlehem, sparkling over the roof of a barn. The eldest of them reverently kneels, gently touching the baby. The rest are waiting in line to present rich gifts. And after them is a long line of people who have come to see a miracle.
The expression of faces is different for everyone - from surprise and curiosity to wise contemplation and thoughtfulness. Ordinary living and absolutely natural people, and only the golden rays shining around the head, highlight Mary and Jesus. It is believed that Karl the Bold is depicted in the image of the magician on the right.
Animals are also present here - next to the manger there is a cow and a donkey, a small Italian greyhound lies on the ground. In the background is a large bright city with detailed houses and streets. And what a variety of fabrics and styles, rich decorations, painted carefully and with love. A rich palette of bright colors fills with joy and a sense of happiness.
Right wing - Bringing to the temple, the most solemn and exalted. Elder Simeon carefully accepts the little Christ, recognition and faith shine in his eyes. The artist perfectly conveys the emotions of people: the calm pride of the Mother of God, the expectation of Joseph, the sadness and compassion of Anna the prophetess. On the girl’s hands in a small basket are two doves — an atoning sacrifice.
The action takes place in a large church full of daylight. Windows decorated with stained-glass windows, high walls with rows of columns not only add spaciousness to the picture, but also indicate the significance of the moment. Warm shades of stone, light, clean colors of the clothes create a feeling of tenderness and peace.
The picture can be considered for a long time, finding more and more new details. This lyrical, very soulful altar, conveying the joy of the events taking place, rightfully occupies a place among the masterpieces of the Northern Renaissance.