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A baby sits on a woman’s lap surrounded by a kneeling man and three standing figures.

Circle-shaped painting in a square frame with gold corners. A woman in a blue robe holds a light-skinned baby, both facing right. Kneeling in front of the baby is a man in red holding a small cross. The baby touches it with both hands. Behind the kneeling man are two standing figures, one light-skinned and holding a cup and the other dark-skinned and holding a round object with a cross on top. The dark-skinned man reaches toward a seated figure in a turban who is just out of frame. Behind the woman is a light-skinned man holding a donkey’s bridle.

Gallery Text

Cosmè Tura was an official court painter to the ruling Este family and its circle in Ferrara. Although this work appears to be an independent circular panel (or tondo), several factors suggest otherwise. First, the painting is smaller than most late fifteenth-century tondos and commemorative birth salvers. Second, it is closely linked to two identically shaped paintings — the Circumcision and the Flight into Egypt — which probably once belonged to a larger pictorial ensemble. Some scholars have suggested that all were part of a predella (lower register) narrative for the artist’s Roverella Altarpiece, commissioned for the church of San Giorgio in Ferrara, but the images do not correspond with an early description of that work.

Identification and Creation

Object Number
Cosmè Tura, Italian (Ferrara c. 1430 - 1495 Ferrara)
The Adoration of the Magi
Other Titles
Former Title: Adoration of the Kings
Work Type
c. 1480
Creation Place: Europe, Italy, Emilia, Ferrara
Persistent Link


Level 2, Room 2500, European Art, 13th–16th century, Art and Image in Europe
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Physical Descriptions

Tempera on panel
38.7 x 38.4 cm (15 1/4 x 15 1/8 in.)
framed: 50 x 48.9 x 5.3 cm (19 11/16 x 19 1/4 x 2 1/16 in.)
Inscriptions and Marks
  • label: back of frame, paper, printed


Recorded Ownership History
Prince Antonio Rubblicola Santacroce, Rome, by 1892; to Contessa di Santa Fiora, Rome, 1894 until at least 1897 [1]. Mrs. Edward M. Cary, gift; to Fogg Art Museum, 1905

[1] Listed as part of the Contessa's collection in the 1897 text "L'Art Ferrarais: A l'Époque des Princes d'Este" by Gustave Gruyer. Listed as part of the collection of the Comtesse de Santa Fiore in the 1905 "La Peinture en Europe..." by Richtenberger and Lafenestre

Acquisition and Rights

Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, Gift of Mrs. Edward M. Cary
Accession Year
Object Number
European and American Art

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Visible surface, tondo

Publication History

  • Gustave Gruyer, L'Art Ferrarais: A l'Époque des Princes d'Este, E. Plon et cie (PAris, 1897), pp.71, 82
  • Eugène Richtenberger and Georges Lafenestre, La Peinture en Europe: Rome, les musées, les collections particulières, les palais, Librairies-imprimeries réunies (Paris, 1905), p. 291, repr.
  • Joseph Breck, "Notizie Intorno al Dipinti Italiani nel Fogg Museum", Rassegna d'Arte (October 1909), pp. 169-172, pp. 169-170, repr. p. 170
  • Edward Waldo Forbes, "The William Hayes Fogg Art Museum of Harvard University", Museum of Fine Arts Bulletin, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (Boston, June 1909), p. 26, repr.
  • William N. Bates, "Archaeological News", American Journal of Archaeology (January - March 1910), Vol. 14, No. 1, pp. 95-141, p. 137
  • Edmund G. Gardner, The Painters of the School of Ferrara, Duckworth & Co. (London, 1911), p. 208, under note 1
  • J. A. Crowe and G. B. Cavalcaselle, A History of Painting in North Italy, ed. Tancred Borenius, Charles Scribner & Sons (New York, 1912), Vol. II, p. 230, under note 1
  • Morton Bernath, New York und Boston, E.A. Seemann Verlag (Leipzig, 1912), pp. 74-75
  • Robert Henry Benson, Catalogue of Italian Pictures at 16, South Street, Park Lane, London and Buckhurst in Sussex Collected by Robert and Evelyn Benson, Chiswick Press (London, 1914), p. 105, under cat. no. 55
  • Collection of Mediaeval and Renaissance Paintings, Fogg Art Museum (Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1919), pp. 188-192, no. 37 (as "Adoration of the Kings")
  • "[Review] The Metropolitan Musem: Co-operation of Collectors Assures Complete Exhibition of Italian Renaissance", Antiquarian (September 1923), pp. 13, 25-26, repr. p. 13
  • Joseph Breck, "Loan Exhibition of the Arts of the Italian Renaissance", Bulletin of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York, May 1923), pp. 107-114, pp. 108-109, repr. p. 109
  • The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Loan Exhibition of the Arts of the Italian Renaissance, exh. cat. (New York, 1923), p. 10, cat. no. 28, repr.
  • Ella S. Siple, "The Fogg Museum of Art at Harvard", The Burlington Magazine (June 1927), vol. 50, no. 291, pp. 309-17, p. 309
  • [unidentified article], The New York Times (New York, April 21, 1929), repr.
  • Fogg Art Museum Handbook, Fogg Art Museum (Cambridge, MA, 1931), p. 53, repr.
  • Philip Hendy, The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum: Catalogue of the Exhibited Paintings and Drawings, Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum (Boston, MA, 1931), p. 382
  • Roberto Longhi, Officina Ferrarese, Edizioni d'Italia (Rome, Italy, 1934), pp. 37-39, repr. p. 44, 160-161
  • Fogg Art Museum Handbook, Fogg Art Museum (Cambridge, MA, 1936), p. 79, repr.
  • Jules S. Bache, A Catalogue of Paintings in the Bache Collection, William Bradford Press (New York, 1937), p. 18
  • Alan Burroughs, Art Criticism from a Laboratory, Little, Brown (Boston, 1938), p. 51
  • Hans Tietze, ed., Masterpieces of European Painting in America (London, England, 1939), p. 310, no. 49
  • Mario Salmi, Cosmè Tura, Electa Editrice (Milan, 1957), p. 35, repr. as tav. XXI
  • Eberhard Ruhmer, Tura: Paintings and Drawings, Complete Edition, Phaidon Press (London, 1958), pp. 41, 83, repr. as pl. 62
  • Edward Waldo Forbes, Yankee Visionary, Fogg Art Museum (Cambridge, MA, 1971), p. 24, repr. in b/w p. 25
  • Maurice Grosser, Painter's Progress, C. N. Potter (New York, NY, 1971), pp.35-37, repr. p. 37 as fig. 11
  • Burton B. Fredericksen and Federico Zeri, Census of Pre-Nineteenth-Century Italian Paintings in North American Public Collections, Harvard University Press (Cambridge, MA, 1972), p. 205
  • Andrea Kirsh, "Worlds Below: An Investigation of Infrared Reflectography" (thesis (certificate in conservation), Straus Center for Conservation and Technical Studies, April 1973), Unpublished, pp. 1-25 passim
  • Philip Hendy, European and American Paintings in the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum (Boston, 1974), p. 264
  • Rosemarie Molajoli, L'Opera Completa di Cosmè Tura e i Grandi Pittori Ferraresi del suo Tempo: Francesco Cossa e Ercole de'Roberti, Rizzoli Editore (Milan, 1974), p. 86, no 13, repr. as tav. XVIII
  • David Kolch, "Reconstruction System for Panel Painting Supports: A Review and Evaluation of Treatments in the Fogg Museum Laboratory, 1927-1952" (thesis (certificate in conservation), Straus Center for Conservation and Technical Studies , August 1977), Unpublished, pp. 1-60 passim
  • Everett Fahy, Italian Paintings at Fenway Court and Elsewhere, Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum (Boston, 1978), pp. 38-39, repr. p. 39
  • Keith Christiansen, "Early Renaissance Narrative Painting in Italy", The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, The Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York, Fall 1983), p. 36, repr. as fig. 31
  • Kristin A. Mortimer and William G. Klingelhofer, Harvard University Art Museums: A Guide to the Collections, Harvard University Art Museums and Abbeville Press (Cambridge and New York, 1986), no. 171, p. 152, repr.
  • Edgar Peters Bowron, European Paintings Before 1900 in the Fogg Art Museum: A Summary Catalogue including Paintings in the Busch-Reisinger Museum, Harvard University Art Museums (Cambridge, MA, 1990), pp. 132, 314, repr. b/w cat. no. 613
  • Stephen J. Campbell, Cosmè Tura of Ferrara: Style, Politics and the Renaissance City, 1450-1495, Yale University Press (New Haven, CT, 1998), repr., fig. 90
  • Monica Molteni, Cosmè Tura, F. Motta (Milan, Italy, 1999), p. 123, repr.
  • Stephen J. Campbell, Cosmè Tura: Painting and Design in Renaissance Ferrara, exh. cat., ed. Alan Chong, Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum (Boston, MA, 2001), no. 11, pp. 229, 269-272; repr. in color p. 230
  • Cosmè Tura, auct. cat., Giunti Editore (Florence, 2007), p. 31, repr.

Exhibition History

  • Loan Exhibition of Italian Primitive Paintings, Fogg Art Museum, 02/26/1915 - 03/18/1915
  • Loan Exhibition of the Arts of the Italian Renaissance, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 05/08/1923 - 09/01/1923
  • Golden Gate International Exposition, California Palace of the Legion of Honor, 01/01/1939 - 01/01/1939
  • Edward Waldo Forbes: Yankee Visionary, Fogg Art Museum, 01/16/1971 - 02/22/1971
  • Master Paintings from the Fogg Collection, Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, 04/13/1977 - 08/31/1977
  • Cosmè Tura: Painting and Design in Renaissance Ferrara, Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston, 01/30/2002 - 05/12/2002
  • HAA 10 Survey Course: The Western Tradition, Art Since the Renaissance, Harvard University Art Museums, Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, 02/09/2008 - 03/02/2008
  • Re-View: S422-423 Western Art of the Middle Ages & Renaissance, Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Cambridge, 08/16/2008 - 06/18/2011
  • 32Q: 2500 Renaissance, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 11/16/2014 - 01/01/2050

Subjects and Contexts

  • Google Art Project

Related Works

Verification Level

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