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The Adoration of the Magi: C.2180-1928

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Object information


The Adoration of the Magi


Probably Giovanni di Nicola di Manzoni of Colle (Pottery)


Tin-glazed eathenware group of the Adoration of the Magi painted in polychrome

Buff earthenware, tin-glazed on all the upper surfaces and on the edges of the base. Painted in dark blue, turquoise-green, yellow, orange, and manganese-purple.\par
The Adoration of the Magi modelled in the round on an irregularly shaped base. In the middle is a wattled stall occupied by an ox and an ass. The infant Christ lies on a wavy-edged cloth in front of it, and the infant St John the Baptist kneels at His feet. Further to the left are the three Kings, one standing and two kneeling, accompanied by a dog, who is facing away from Christ. On the right, Joseph kneels behind the Virgin who sits with the infant Christ on her lap. There is a vessel by her feet and, to the right, a sheep. Behind the Virgin, a shepherd holding bagpipes is accompanied by a recumbent dog and two sheep, one resting its forelegs on the back of the other. Behind the three Kings\par
is an attendant with two gaily harnessed horses and a dog. At the back, on the apex of the gable of the stall is a cherub holding a scroll inscribed `O O VOBI. GRADIO.M', and on the wall below is another cherub. On each side there is a kneeling shepherd and a sheep.


History note: G.R. Harding & Sons, King Street, St James's Square, London, from whom purchased on 11 February 1919 by Dr J.W.L. Glaisher * for £30 (MS Cat. 3835).

Legal notes

Dr J.W.L. Glaisher Bequest

Measurements and weight

Height: 25.5 cm
Width: 34.5 cm

Relative size of this object

34.5 cm25.5 cm What does this represent?

Relative size of this object is displayed using code inspired by Good Form and Spectacle's work on the British Museum's Waddeson Bequest website and their dimension drawer. They chose a tennis ball to represent a universally sized object, from which you could envisage the size of an object.

Place(s) associated

  • Colle Val d'Elsa ⪼ Tuscany ⪼ Italy

Acquisition and important dates

Method of acquisition: Bequeathed (1928-12-07) by Glaisher, J. W. L., Dr


Early 16th Century
Circa 1509 CE - 1515 CE


Formerly attributed doubtfully to Faenza. But in view of inkstands with comparable figures inscribed by the maker as being DECOLLE or ACOLLE, and the finding of a MS confirming that the Manzoni family had a pottery in Colle Val d'Elsa (1530) it seems more likely to have been made there than, or elsewhere in Tusdcany than in Faenza. See Wilson and Sani, 2007.

Label text from the exhibition ‘Madonnas and Miracles: The Holy Home in Renaissance Italy’, on display at The Fitzwilliam Museum from 7 March until 4 June 2017: Designed to be seen in the round, this engaging maiolica group depicts two Christmas scenes simultaneously: on the back, a hovering angel announces Christ’s birth to the shepherds, while the front shows the Adoration of the Magi. The baby Christ appears twice – on his mother’s lap and on the ground. The colourful figures and animals would, no doubt, have appealed to the children of the household.

Zusanna Sarnecka has pointed (see Documentation, Madonnas and Miracles. 2017) that the partly missing inscription on the scroll would probably have been 'Dono vobi[s] gradiom [sic]' (I give you grace), possibly referring to the ending of St Paul's first epistle to the Corinthians, 'Gratia Domini Iesu vobiscum' (The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you, I Corinthians, 16.23).

School or Style


People, subjects and objects depicted

Components of the work

Decoration composed of high-temperature colours ( dark blue, turquoise-green, yellow, orange, and manganese-purple) Figures

Materials used in production

Tin-glaze Earthenware

Techniques used in production


Inscription or legends present

  • Text: O O VOBI. GRADIO.M
  • Location: On ribbon held by angel
  • Method of creation: Painted in blue
  • Type: Inscription

References and bibliographic entries

Related exhibitions

Identification numbers

Accession number: C.2180-1928
Primary reference Number: 80700
Old object number: 3835
Stable URI

Audit data

Created: Saturday 6 August 2011 Updated: Wednesday 25 November 2020 Last processed: Sunday 28 November 2021

Associated departments & institutions

Owner or interested party: The Fitzwilliam Museum
Associated department: Applied Arts

Citation for print

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The Fitzwilliam Museum (2022) "The Adoration of the Magi" Web page available at: Accessed: 2022-07-07 05:24:33

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