Adoration of the Magi by Gentile di Fabriano

If you have been to the Uffizi, you know that it is absolutely overwhelming! With my Friend of the Uffizi card, I go often and have developed a system for learning the most that I can without getting that overwhelmed feeling. I purchased a book with the Uffizi Collection outlined and discussed. It is not lengthy, but just enough so that I can understand a little bit about the artist and the painting and the time period it was painted in.

Today, I went to see the painting by Gentile di Fabriano, called the Adoration of the Magi. I went to see it because of 3 events, which had all occurred recently. Even though I was feeling a bit under the weather today, these 3 things that happened made me anxious to see this painting in person and right away!

The first thing that happened was that I attended a lecture at The British Institute here in Florence a few weeks ago, called Midwives at the Nativity. Since I had a midwife at my two children’s births instead of going into a hospital, I am always interested in tales of midwifery. The lecture focused on the biblical reference to two women who were at the nativity. There is controversy over this because this “miracle birth” would not have been like normal births and therefore midwives would have been unnecessary. The speaker went on to show us several paintings that included midwives.

The second event was when I decided to review my Uffizi guide for my next trip, and ran across Gentile di Fabriano’s painting, which the speaker had used as an example in the lecture. I had not realized before that that particular painting was located in the Uffizi.

The third event occurred that very same day, in fact a few hours after I found the painting in the book. I received a holiday card from a dear friend with the same painting on the front of it! She had bought it in Fabriano, a small town in Le Marche where Gentile di Fabriano is from.
These three things happening in close proximity seemed to be a sign, so I set off to see the painting in person, and it did not disappoint! These photos are from my Uffizi guide and my friend’s card, since the Uffizi does not allow photos inside. The painting in person of course is more vivid and has more details than you can see in the photo. The small insert at the bottom left corner of the large “triptych” is of the two midwives behind the building.
Now, when you see paintings or photographs of paintings of the nativity…..be sure to look for those midwives! I did take a few photos of the views from the Uffizi, which are allowed :)

6 Comments on “Adoration of the Magi by Gentile di Fabriano

    • Hi Barbara,

      The guide that I have says The Official Guide all of the works, Uffizi Gallery published by Giunti. It is from 2007 so there are things that are out of date. I probably should update! Ciao, Karen

  1. I never knew anything about the midwives, great tip! This piece is one of my favorites since I studied it years ago. It reminds of of Firenze at that time it was painted in general. Rich, opulent, etc.

  2. Hi Karen. Yes that is a very lovely and compelling painting. I have another coincidence for you––one of the things my program here at the university does is publish books of contemporary poetry. In 2007 we published a book of sonnets by one of our authors, Steven Nightingale, and on the cover we used a detail from Gentile di Fabriano’s, Adoration of the Magi. Here’s a link to the book on Amazon, you can click to see a larger image of the cover.

    http://goo.gl/JBa5I

    Did you know that the town of Fabriano is the home of one of the world’s finest paper making companies? They make beautiful art papers that are very popular with artists, particularly for drawing, watercolor, and printmaking. We buy substantial quantities of their papers for our students to use and for our own work. I just purchased 200 sheets of their Rives BFK for $500.00 and that was deeply discounted! The more commercial side of Fabriano paper mill makes the paper used in the printing of the euro currency. There’s a wonderful Fabriano paper museum in the town, which has a tour to show visitors how paper was made at Fabriano beginning in the 13th century. They still make paper there by hand and you can purchase sheets in their gift shop. It’s worth a visit if you’re ever in that area.
    Thanks for your wonderful posts! Ciao, Bob

    • Oh wow! The book looks beautiful. I haven’t been to Fabriano, but would like to. So much to see, so little time!

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