Posted: 13 December 2014

Advent: The Adoration of the Kings

Today our Advent reflection is on The Adoration of the Kings by Sandro Botticelli. You can open this painting in a separate window that allows you to zoom in and examine the painting. Make sure you take in the full depth and detail of this beautiful artwork before you dive into our reflection.

More information about the painting is available on the National Gallery of Art's website.

Six questions for personal reflection

1. As you focus on the picture, which people grab your attention? Why? Think about what might have led the characters to this place.

The Adoration of Kings by Sandro Botticelli

2. Do you see the three characters hidden in the background? Is there anyone who has been hidden in the background you’ve failed to notice recently?

3. The people who commissioned the painting, probably the wealthy Pucci family, were painted into the scene. What do you make of their ambition to be included? Do you think it is a good or bad thing?

  Good: Because it shows they wanted to be there and we have this painting now because they paid for it.

  Bad: Isn’t it a pretty selfish and vain move to include yourself?

4. Why are the kings kneeling but others aren’t? Does your status prevent you from kneeling? From serving? From worshipping?

5. Observe the ruins. This is no stable. Why do you think that Botticelli chose this as the setting for the Adoration?

  The ruins are symbolic of the end of era and out of it has been birthed a new era. 

a detail of "Adoration of the Kings", featuring Mary holding baby Jesus, and a peacock nearby

6. Peacocks often feature in paintings alongside paintings of Jesus because they were believed to have immortal flesh and symbolise renewal – a peacock’s feathers naturally renew each year – and therefore this painting points towards Christ’s resurrection.

  Our lives will all point towards something, are you satisfied with the values and beliefs your life is pointing towards?

By Ben Palmer - Church team

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