THE ADORATION OF THE MAGI
attributed to loannis permeniates, veneto-byzantine school, first quarter of the 16th century
On the left the Mother of God and St. Joseph kneel beside the new-born Christ lying on a crib, with a shepherd in attendance, before a cave with donkey and a cow, in a rocky landscape with two angels in adoration, with the Star of Bethlehem above, from the right the three Magi approach on horseback with their attendants and animals, behind a shepherd with his flock gazes at the angel in the sky bearing a banner inscribed 'Glor.in.Excel.Deo', in a partially wooded landscape with an Italianate town beside a lake with swans on which ply three boats.
Showing great refinement in composition, this icon exhibits a profound knowledge of traditional Cretan icon painting with strong influences from various schools of the Italian Renaissance. Its style and iconography is very close to other Italo-Cretan icons of the Adoration and of the Nativity produced during the 15th and 16th centuries, and it is possible to compare this icon with other examples in collections in Athens, Thessaloniki and St. Petersburg.
Nano Chatzidakis in his article discussing 'The Adoration of the Magi: an Icon by a Greek Painter of the early Renaissance' in Euphrosynon, vol.11, (Athens, 1992), pp.713-739, English summary pp.740-741, compares the landscape in his icon to that in an icon of the Prayer in the Garden, at the Fogg Art Museum, as well as an icon of St. Peter in the Sacra Conversazione at Vicenza, and the Miracle of the Paralytic at Parma. In addition he points to similarities in the icon of the Mother of God at the Museo Correr signed by Ioannis Permeniates, a painter in the Greek community in Venice, during the first decades of the 16th century. The strong similarities in the present icon to that discussed by Chatzidakis confirms its attribution to the same icon painter or his workshop.
We would like to thank Dr. Maria Vassilaki for her assistance with this attribution.