This small triptych is loosely based on the compositional formula developed by leading Antwerp artists like Joos van Cleve, Pieter Coecke van Aelst and Jan Martens van Dornicke in the early decades of the 16th century. Placing the Holy Family in the central panel with Caspar, the oldest king, kneeling to present his gift to the Christ Child, this type of composition, almost invariably found in triptychs, placed the other two Magi on the wing panels. Here, the bearded Melchior, wearing an exotic turban, stands in the right wing, while Balthasar, who wears a deep blue, fur-lined cloak and removes his hat as a gesture of respect, is placed on the left. The classical frieze that partially borders the ruined stable occupied by the Holy Family shows the increasing influence of Italianate decoration and classical ornamentation, which began to spread through the Netherlands after artists like Jan Gossaert travelled south and disseminated the style through their works.
We are grateful to Peter van den Brink and Till-Holger Borchert for assisting with the cataloguing and dating of this lot.