August 28, 2013

Getty's Newly Acquired Northern Renaissance Masterpiece To Go On View September 3

The Roman de Gillion de Trazegnies features the heroic and romantic exploits of Gillion, a famed Flemish nobleman on pilgrimage to the Holy Land

September 3, 2013–March 2, 2014
At the J. Paul Getty Museum, Getty Center


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The Author Hears the Story of Gillion de Trazegnies (detail), after 1464. Lieven van Lathem (Flemish, about 1430–1493). Tempera colors, gold, and ink on parchment. The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, Ms. 111, fol. 9v.

LOS ANGELES—The J. Paul Getty Museum will exhibit the Roman de Gillion de Trazegnies, an illuminated manuscript from Flanders by Lieven van Lathem (1430–1493) from September 3, 2013–March 2, 2014. The work is considered one of the finest productions by Van Lathem, the most accomplished and sophisticated painter of secular scenes in the golden era of Flemish manuscript illumination. In July, England granted the export license for the work, which was purchased by the Getty at auction in December 2012.

“This newest acquisition to the manuscripts collection by the greatest illuminator of the Flemish High Renaissance adds another masterpiece to the Museum’s growing collection,” says Timothy Potts, director of the J. Paul Getty Museum. “It nicely complements the only documented manuscript by van Lathem, the Prayer Book of Charles the Bold, which was acquired by the Getty in 1989, and which serves as a basis for all other attributions by this artist.”

Roman de Gillion de Trazegnies focuses on the extraordinary adventures of a nobleman from the family of Trazegnies, whose seat was in Hainaut (present-day Belgium). Part travelogue, part romance, and part epic, the text traces the exciting exploits of Gillion, who journeys to Egypt on pilgrimage, inadvertently becomes a bigamist, and dies in battle as a glorious hero. The tale encompasses the most thrilling elements of its genre—faithful love, nefarious villains, strong family loyalty, and violent battle—with the exotic elements of dangerous travel and Eastern customs adding additional excitement.

Gracienne Takes Leave of Her Father the Sultan, after 1464. Lieven van Lathem (Flemish, about 1430–1493). Tempera colors, gold, and ink on parchment. The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, Ms. 111, fol. 188v.

From September 3–December 1, 2013
, the manuscript will be open to the first image in the book, which shows the author discovering the unusual triple tomb of a knight flanked by two women (Gillion and his wives) in a church, sparking his curiosity and convincing him to write out the tale. From December 3, 2013–March 2, 2014, the manuscript will be open to an illumination of Gillion’s second wife taking leave of her father the sultan, with details such as camels and turbans evoking the glamour of the Egyptian court.

Van Lathem’s distinctive works are known for their graceful, spirited figures, subtle handling of emotion, vivid color palette, and complex compositions filled with incredible details. The
Roman de Gillion de Trazegnies contains eight brilliantly painted half-page miniatures and forty-four historiated initials. The work was on loan for the Getty Museum’s 2003 landmark exhibition Illuminating the Renaissance, in which it was one of the highlights. Following this initial showing, it will be included in future manuscript exhibitions at the Getty Museum.


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The J. Paul Getty Trust is an international cultural and philanthropic institution devoted to the visual arts that includes the J. Paul Getty Museum, the Getty Research Institute, the Getty Conservation Institute, and the Getty Foundation. The J. Paul Getty Trust and Getty programs serve a varied audience from two locations:  the Getty Center in Los Angeles and the Getty Villa in Malibu.

The J. Paul Getty Museum
collects in seven distinct areas, including Greek and Roman antiquities, European paintings, drawings, manuscripts, sculpture and decorative arts, and photographs gathered internationally. The Museum’s mission is to make the collection meaningful and attractive to a broad audience by presenting and interpreting the works of art through educational programs, special exhibitions, publications, conservation, and research.

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