I've spent so much time looking and looking and looking at the piece I've forgotten that there are three themes I'm supposed to be writing about MAKING, LOCATING and VIEWING the piece with particular reference to the image of the black Magus. So enough of the MAKING for now I'll look at LOCATING......
How did the image of black Magus reach South West England at start of the sixteenth century ?
Well thanks to Kaplan's The Rise of the Black Magus and Ladailas et al's The Image of the Black in Western Art I was able to trace the origin of the image and how it moved across Europe. So with deep respect and paying homage to The Reduced Shakespeare Company here goes......
1 12th C Spain Islamic court had musicians black
2 France Norman court copies Spainish Islam's black musicians
3 13th C Italy German court copy Norman court's black musicians and retainers
4 14th C Germany Cologne Magi Relics, St Maurice, Prestor John, Queen of Sheba, Rogier van Weyden all conflated and amplified with much bible study and 'tradition'
5 15th Netherlands : Hans Memling Adoration copies Weyden but with black third king producing THE seminal Adoration much copied and copied
6 16th England image bought and then brought image in from Netherlands
.....or put another way .......The French Norman's first saw black court musicians trumpeting and drumming to announce the arrival of Islamic rulers from Spain they copied them the Normans were then copied the Haphusaphen a German Dynasty who at one time during the 13th century 'owned' Scilliy they took the idea back to Germany. In Cologne they had the remains of the Magi as well as a saint St Maurice as the city's patron saint. Also at that time Bible studies into the Queen of Sheba seemed to show she was black and studies of the legendary priest and king Prestor John the black Ethiopian. In the 14th century these ideas and images were inflated and amplified making one of the kings black. In the 15th century the definitive image of the Magi was Rogier van der Weydens St Columbia Altar Piece with three white magi, his student the German born Flemish painter made the third king black took the idea to Netherlands were it was copied by painters and engravers and copied and copied and copied. There were markets in Antwerp at the time in which English people. traded.... the image made it way back to England as work bought and brought right from the Antwerp market or in the head of craftsmen or artists who reproduced it here in England as we know many foreign artist were at work in the England at that the time.