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The Star of the Magi

A work made of engraving in black on ivory laid paper.
CC0 Public Domain Designation

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  • A work made of engraving in black on ivory laid paper.


c. 1616


Jan van de Velde II
Dutch, c. 1593-1641

About this artwork

Here Jan van de Velde the Younger engraved the earliest known print of so-called star-singers on Twelfth Night. This secular celebration mimicked the journey of the Three Magi, or kings, who followed the miraculous star of Bethlehem to the infant Christ. Popular in the 17th-century Dutch Republic, this Epiphany festival, held on January 6, grew beyond the church. It consisted of two parts: an indoor family feast crowning a king chosen by lottery, and a nighttime parade of singers carrying a candle-lit star from door to door. Unlike the generous Magi, the singers demanded gifts as they progressed, illuminated by their glowing paper star.


Currently Off View


Prints and Drawings


Jan van de Velde, II


The Star of the Magi


Holland (Artist's nationality:)

Date  Dates are not always precisely known, but the Art Institute strives to present this information as consistently and legibly as possible. Dates may be represented as a range that spans decades, centuries, dynasties, or periods and may include qualifiers such as c. (circa) or BCE.

Made 1611–1621


Engraving in black on ivory laid paper


16.3 × 21.6 cm (6 7/16 × 8 9/16 in.)

Credit Line

Gift of Langdon Pearse

Reference Number


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Extended information about this artwork

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