The Adoration of the Magi

Here is another of my formative experiences of an art work:

As a student, I had a poster of the Adoration of the Magi by Pieter Bruegel the Elder on my wall. This was a pose, as I wanted to appear to be an intellectual, and I did not like it particularly. I cannot say it grew on me, so much as altered in an instant. That instant was a moment of amazing shock and delight.

I got the poster from my father’s “Teachers’ World” magazine, and thought all the people in it hideous and ridiculous, particularly disliking the green-skinned fellow on the far right. And then one day I looked at it, and it was transformed. I saw the reverence and wonder on each of the faces, and ever after saw them like that, not ugly as before.

I am still not sure of the knowingness on the face of the bairn. He is God, after all, he must Know- but to me, he is human, and I find his divine nature particularly difficult to imagine in a newborn. I have seen expressions on the faces of very young children, particularly when in eye-contact with another person, but not this.

So I now love the image, and learned the value of living with a work of art and letting it communicate its secrets over time.

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