Archivio Veneranda Fabbrica del Duomo
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19 January Jan 2018 1236 5 months ago

The Adoration of the Magi on the Porta Maggiore of the Duomo

The Tree of Life branches out into the joys and sorrows of the Virgin

The design for the Duomo di Milano façade, conceived by Tibaldi, included five doors: a large one at the centre and two smaller ones on each side. The Cathedral’s “porta maggiore”, the largest door, cast in bronze according to the model by Lodovico Pogliaghi and inaugurated in 1908, depicts the joys (on the right side) and the sorrows (on the left side) of the Virgin. Among the panels that represent the joyous moments in the life of Mary, one depicts the Adoration of the Magi.

Dating back to the national competition for the “Porta Maggiore” – “The Main Door” (24th May 1894), this subject was considered important enough to be selected, together with the Annunciation, as a test model for participants to submit for evaluation.

In his interpretation of this scene, Pogliaghi selected an iconography that shows the eldest of the Magi kneeling bare-headed while kissing the feet of a Baby Jesus Christ. The panel with the Adoration of the Magi was the first to be cast in bronze, as a test, during the first stages of the door’s design and realisation, in the summer of 1902.

A unique feature of the Pogliaghi doors are the quatrefoil panels, crowned by a Gothic canopy with polylobate arch at the centre of each side, the largest of which depicts the Glory of Mary (right) and the Pietà (left).

The inauguration in 1908 coincided with the installation of the transom light depicting the Coronation of the Virgin, necessary to compensate for the door’s lack of height.