“To be an Infidel or an Unbeliever...” Five Wise Men: Edmund Dulac, W. B. Yeats, and The Magi
This paper examines the treatment of the Adoration of the Magi in a 1917 painting by Edmund Dulac (1882–1953). By rendering its subject in a Persian painting style and combining Hindu, Muslim, Buddhist, and Christian elements, Dulac correlates East and West, secular and sacred, Christian and non-Christian. Coming in the midst of the First World War, the painting shows a suffering public in England turning to exoticism as a means of escaping a dismal reality. However calm and serene the figures appear, they mask the tension and angst of the outside world. The artwork illuminates the artist’s time period as well as his own intriguing beliefs, influenced by Theosophy, spiritism, esotericism, mysticism, and occultism.