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King Herod, with the Magi and other scenes from the Infancy of Christ, Corby Glen, Linconshire (‡Lincoln). c.1325

Photo:T.Marshall King Herod (scene from an Infancy cycle, Corby Glen (70KB)

In this painting, one of several remaining at Corby Glen, Herod sits in his pomp on an elaborate throne, crowned and brandishing his huge curved sword or falchion. His legs are crossed, variously a sign of authority, or of a tyrant - in Herod’s case, either or both may be implied. He raises his left hand, perhaps to acknowledge the two approaching (or possibly departing) Magi (the third has gone) also painted on the south wall. The most remarkable thing about him, perhaps, is his shoes, with their exaggeratedly long pointed toes. Such ridiculously extended shoes were the height of fashion in the early 14th century and thus, probably, the painter has drawn attention to Herod’s vanity, and the fact that practicality need not concern him overmuch. The fashionability aspect probably accounts for the fact that the two remaining Magi also have shoes of a similar length, although they are less elaborate than Herod’s. The two are, as so often, differentiated by costume and by apparent age; the first (photo, right) of them in a long robe of the kind worn by middle-aged or elderly men. Journey of the Magi, with King Herod and other scenes, Corby Glen (79KB)

This senior Magus holds his gift, in the form of a lidded vessel, and a speech-scroll, indecipherable now. The second Magus (photo, below left) also holds his gift and has a similarly unreadable speech-scroll. His youth is emphasised by his almost risibly short doublet, certainly the shortest worn by any Magus (or indeed any other figure) featured on this site. Both Magi have crowns, and both their garments are decorated with ermine, or vair, to signify their royal status.

Magus, Journey of the Magi, Corby Glen (57KB) These royal and authoritative figures must have seemed exotic indeed to the farmers and fishermen of Corby Glen. More recognisable and familiar figures are also here, though, in the shape of the shepherd and his sheep also painted on the wall. Shepherd and sheep, Nativity scenes, Corby Glen (54KB) The shepherd’s thick robe, made for winter outdoors, the crook held over his shoulder with lantern suspended from it, and above all, the heavy clogs on his feet, provide a massive contrast to the sumptuously-clad royalty elsewhere on the wall. He must have been a reassuring figure, and he is certainly an endearing one.

The paintings of the St Anne teaching the Virgin to read, and the Nativity at Corby Glen have been on this site for several years, and the addition of this page completes the Nativity/Infancy sequence. A Warning to Swearers and a Doom are still to come.

Website of St. John the Evangelist, Corby Glen

Links to other Infancy Scenes
Annunciation to the Shepherds/Nativity, Ashampstead, Berkshire Nativity, Corby Glen, Lincs King Herod, with two Magi and other Nativity scenes, Corby Glen, Lincolnshire Nativity/Annunciation to the Shepherds, Wissington, Suffolk Adoration of the Magi, Black Bourton, Oxon.
Adoration of the Magi, Edstaston, Shropshire Nativity/Annunciation to the Shepherds, Faversham, Kent Adoration of the Magi/Presentation in the Temple, Faversham, Kent Adoration of the Magi, Heydon, Norfolk Adoration of the Magi, Pinvin, Worcs
Adoration of the Magi, Salisbury (St. Thomas) Wilts Adoration of the Shepherds/Magi, Thornham Parva, Suffolk Adoration of the Magi/Dream of the Magi, Wissington, Suffolk Three Magi, Burton Dassett, Warwicks. Massacre of the Innocents/Presentation in the Temple, Kelmscott, Oxon.
Flight into Egypt, Croughton, Northants Miracle of the Clay Birds, Shorthampton, Oxon. Baptism of Christ, Black Bourton, Oxon. Infancy Cycle, Brook, Kent Nativity scenes, with Annunication to Shepherds, Hardham, Sussex NEW

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December 19 2008

Anne Marshall 2008