Painter of Northern Italy 15th century (?) - inv. 3199
Abraded and scratched, the panel is unfortunately in an irremediably compromised state.
The sacred subject is decidedly unusual for a chest front, a piece of furniture that was generally decorated with profane scenes, given its domestic function. The image is enriched with ornamental elements in relief: two twisted columns signal the lateral ends and sophisticated cherubs, interspersed with other no longer decipherable motifs, are placed at regular intervals in the sky. The leaf moulding running along the lower edge creates an ideal ‘stage’ where the figures can walk.
The procession of the Magi emerges from the fortified gateway of a town visible on the extreme left and makes its way to the stable of the Nativity at the other end. Between these two, there is an almost monochrome landscape of hills, mountains and turreted towns acting as the backdrop for the procession of people and animals. It is a highly narrative scene that invites the spectator’s eye to pause on the numerous details. Note the figures talking to each other, the exotic touch of the three camels held by their bridles, the clothes and headwear.
However, the work shows conflicting stylistic features that make any attribution difficult. If the landscape of hills and walled towns recalls 14th-century Sienese art, the flowering meadow, groups of people and knightly atmosphere evoke International Gothic style of the first half of the 15th century.