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Missed the 'Magi' at the Getty? Catch it at the Louvre

October 7, 2008 | 10:28 am

Mantegna

One of the J. Paul Getty Museum's most highly prized Old Master paintings, "The Adoration of the Magi" by Italian Renaissance master Andrea Mantegna, has left its customary place at the Getty Center to take a star turn in Paris. The painting of three kings clustered around the holy family, thought to have been made around 1495-1500 in Mantua, where Mantegna was the court painter, is part of an exhibition at the Louvre devoted to the artist and his circle.

The show is the first major Mantegna retrospective to be presented in France and it has attracted droves of enthusiasts who stand in line outside the entrance and elbow their way through the galleries. Still in its early weeks, "Mantegna (1431-1506)" continues through Jan. 5.

The Getty's picture appears near the end of the show in a section called "Vers la Maniere Moderne" or "Toward the Modern Manner." Explanatory text on the gallery wall points out that Mantegna's late work was out of favor in Mantua, where the taste-maker of the moment, the young Marchess Isabella, "flaunted her partiality for a more pleasant and sentimental type of painting." But with more than 500 years of hindsight, the Louvre informs visitors that the veteran artist was up to the challenge.

"The Adoration of the Magi," as the text explains, is among Mantegna's "ultimate creations" in which "a more gentle execution and an emotional content" reflect the "new climate."

-- Suzanne Muchnic

Photo credit: The J. Paul Getty Museum

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