Ippolito Scarsella detto Lo Scarsellino
(Ferrara 1551 – 1620)

The Adoration of the Magi

Oil on canvas, 187 x 114 cm (74 x 45 inches)

The queue at the Bethlehem tollgate is growing and winds along the grassy cliff at the foot of a rocky coast marked with a vein of cobalt. “The greatest of his endeavours,” wrote the biographer Baruffaldi “is the Adoration of the Magi of baby Jesus in the manger. Hippolytus, in making this picture [although he was talking about the one at the Oratorio – or oratory –della Concezione, known as della Scala, in Ferrara] put aside his usual way of working, becoming more vigorous and charged up than anyone had been previously… and he has been copied several times” (Baruffaldi, G: Vite de’ pittori e scultori ferraresi (Lives of the most celebrated Painters and Sculptors of Ferrara), II, Ferrara 1846, p. 99). Copied and repeated – as attested by the numerous versions in existence (Fig. 3) under the neo-Venetian taste for Veronese – he earned, in his day, the nickname of Paolo de’ Ferraresi (Paolo of Ferrara).

Fig. 3: Ippolito Scarsella, known as Lo Scarsellino, The Adoration of the Magi. Baltimore, Walters Art Gallery, inv. 37.1922.