The Adoration of the Magi
Sir James Thornhill (Melcombe Regis 1675 - Stalbridge 1734)
This painting is set within the great Baroque interior of the chapel at Wimpole, which was created in the 1720s for Lord Harley, despite the fact that the parish church lay only a few yards away. It may have been conceived in conscious rivalry of the Duke of Chandos’s famous chapel at Canons. The chapel was designed by Gibbs, whose earliest drawings date from 1713. The east wall, representing the Adoration of the Magi, has been described with justice as ‘the most notable Baroque rendering of a religious subject by an English painter’. The arrangement is though to have been inspired by Inigo Jones’s Queen’s Chapel at St James’s with its great Venetian east window. The delicate blues and pinks in the Virgin’s dress may reflect the influence of the Venetian painters, Sebastiano Ricci and his rival, Giovanni Antonio Pellegrini, but Thornhill may also have been studying the more classical work of Poussin and other late seventeenth-century French artists.
Oil painting on canvas, The Adoration of the Magi, by Sir James Thornhill (Melcombe Regis 1675 - Stalbridge 1734), signed on the lintel to the glazed door leading into the Entrance Hall: Iac: Thornhill Esq Faciebat 1724
Painted by Sir James Thornhill for Edward Harley, 2nd Earl of Oxford (1689-1741) for the sum of £1350; bequeathed by Elsie Kipling, Mrs George Bambridge (1896 - 1976), daughter of Rudyard Kipling, to the National Trust together with Wimpole Hall, all its contents and an estate of 3,000 acres
Makers and roles
Sir James Thornhill (Melcombe Regis 1675 - Stalbridge 1734), artist