Guariento di Arpo, Coronation of the Virgin Altarpiece: Detail, The Adoration of the Magi

Padua, 1344
Tempera and gold leaf on panel
Norton Simon Museum, Pasadena, California

As in some other images of this century, the "stable" is stylized as just four narrow supports for a peaked roof. The device of placing the stable before a cave, thus melding Eastern and Western traditions, is also seen in Bartolo di Fredi's Adoration of the Shepherds.

The shepherd on the right wears a white hooded garment, as if he were a monk, and a white two-tiered hat. Usually the shepherds are three in number and wear rustic garb.

In the earlier tradition retained in Orthodox nativities, Joseph holds his hand to his chin or cheek, a gesture that indicates his contemplation of the event. This work revises that gesture by having the saint place his head on his folded hands.

In the right panel Joseph stands with one of the gifts, another traditional detail. The magi represent the three ages of man but not the diversity of races that will be a common trope in later years.

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Read more about images of the birth of Jesus.

These panels are on the far left in the first register of the altarpiece:

Photographed at the site by Richard Stracke, shared under Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license.