The Adoration of the Magi
45 cm x 73.2 cm (17 11/16 in. x 28 13/16 in.)
(Tetschen (Bohemia), Czech Republic, 1710 - 1747, Dresden)
Medium and Support:
Oil on canvas
Blanton Museum of Art, The University of Texas at Austin, The Suida-Manning Collection, 2017
Anton Kern was the leading painter of the mid-eighteenth century in Prague and Dresden. Determined by training and a long collaboration with Giovanni Battista Pittoni in Venice, his style combines the fluid composition and extreme grace of the Central European Baroque with the vibrant palette of Sebastiano Ricci and his followers. Called to Dresden in 1738, he would spend the rest of his short career at the court of Augustus III. While capable of grand decoration and an occasional altarpiece, his specialty was cabinet pictures with the loose handling of oil sketches.
This delightful picture is an important example of Kern’s earliest style. Its color and handling are so purely Venetian, the slightly angular construction and pointing types so indebted to Pittoni, that it could be confused with his work. The drawing, however, is slacker, the impasto gratuitous, and the sentiment a bit saccharine. An early biographer of Bohemian painters, Johann Quirin Jahn, mentions at least six paintings by Kern in the residences of the Counts Czernin at Prague. Apparently forming a series, four represent scenes from the youth of Christ. The Suida-Manning picture has been recently identified as one of those pictures and dated 1730, the date that appears on another picture from the series in a private collection in Bologna.