September 2020

The Journey of the Magi: Origins, Myth and Reality

Welcome to The Arts Society Canterbury Evening
Monday, September 21, 2020 -
19:30 to 20:30
Old Sessions House
Canterbury Christchurch University Longport CT1 1PL

Leslie Primo explores myth & iconography of the Magi story from its Eastern and pagan roots to its current Christian interpretation.

Leslie Primo will unravel the myth and the iconography behind the proliferation of the story of the adoration of the magi from its Eastern and pagan roots to its current Christian interpretation.  To aid his examination of this story, and to trace the changes in iconography and depictions of the kings themselves, he will illustrate it with a variety beautiful works of art, images made across many centuries that will illuminate this fascination as never before.  The lecture will begin by looking at the etymology behind the term ‘magi’ and how it has come down to us and what is now means in contemporary society. 

We will look at the changing iconography behind the depictions of the magi story and the various meanings behind these changes in its iconography, not to mention the changes in the story of the adoration of the magi itself.  Moving on the lecture will then look at the origin of the names of the magi and the significance of their gifts to the Christ Child.  Following this exploration of the fundamental roots of the story Leslie will then come to the issue of the inclusion of the black king, where he came from, why he would be included, how significant was he and how European artists tackled the problem of depicting this magus when they themselves had little or no knowledge of such people of colour.  


Mr Leslie Primo

Holds a BA in Art History and an MA in Renaissance Studies from Birkbeck College, University of London. Was Visiting Lecturer in Art History at the University of Reading in 2005 and 2007, gave lectures and guided tours, plus special talks, at both the National Gallery and the National Portrait Gallery for 18 years. Currently he lectures at the City Literary Institute, Imperial College, London, and has presented a series of talks at the National Maritime Museum and the Courtauld Institute.