"Our attention is focused, like Joseph’s, on the Magi and their age. His eyes are toward, the only person really engaging the persons of the Magi. He, like us, has something in common with them. The white folds of their garments and turbans remind one of sagging flesh. They wear their age, like Joseph. They have come to see new life. The old one kneeling intently stares at the child, trying desperately to understand what he has journeyed for."
Extended comment at the link:
"What’s amazing about this painting is how seriously it takes the human, how seriously it takes our suffering in this life. It acknowledges that life is hard: people lose their children every day. It does not do what we do, which is watch the news and then say outright that people could have done something to not lose their children.”
"The whole scene is goofy. The older gentleman at the right is both happy and curious. He has some kind of glasses on and may be eager to try the wound himself. Thomas’ eyes are away from us, looking closed; it’s like he’s doubting his doubt while acting on it…"
from a commentary on Eliza Griswold’s “Water Table” – Rethink.