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Peter Bruegel uses a fairly common plot of Catholic iconography. The semantic center is the Holy Family, around which there is a heap of images. The painting was solved in warm colors, so the figure of the Madonna contrasts with the environment and serves as a compositional center.
Virgin Mary holds a baby on her lap, part of her figure is covered with a blue cloak. The Magi are a symbol of the three continents, so well known to medieval man. Two of them offer their gifts to the Infant Christ and his mother. The faces of the Magi, more like grimaces, expressing despair, and their bodies involuntarily froze in a solemn bow.
Balthazar stands on the left hand of the Madonna. He is extremely calm, and his face stands out sharply against the background of light clothing. Joseph is behind his beloved, while he looks alienated. He does not care about what is happening, so he involuntarily listens to a passerby. While the magi presented their gifts, people crowded around the barn. There are many townspeople here, but there are cruel soldiers with weapons at their ready.
Perhaps Bruegel refers to biblical motifs that were extremely popular among the inhabitants of the Middle Ages. In fact, the author is not easy to understand, his picture is an allegory. The birth of a child does not cause joy in people if war reigns in the world. Thus, the artist more likely refers to the current situation in the country, rather than to scripture.
Bruegel painted the picture in 1564. The Netherlands, at that time, was engulfed in fire, and the country's population waged war on Spain. Not surprisingly, believers were never able to accept the painting “Adoration of the Magi”. The cartoon characters and the indifferent image of Joseph had an inappropriate effect on commoners, with an apparently traditional plot.
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