About: Thomas Kren

I'm acting associate director for collections at the J. Paul Getty Museum and ran the Department of Manuscripts from its inception in 1984 until last year. I've curated numerous exhibitions at the Getty, including Illuminating the Renaissance: The Triumph of Flemish Manuscript Painting in Europe (2003) and A Masterpiece Reconstructed: The Hours of Louis XII (2005), and written books on manuscripts, including, most recently, Illuminated Manuscripts from Belgium and the Netherlands in the J. Paul Getty Museum.

Posts by Thomas

Posted in Art, Exhibitions and Installations, J. Paul Getty Museum, Manuscripts and Books

See the Book That Was Kept in Storage for 800 Years

Stammheim Missal on display in the Getty Museum galleries

One of the most exciting aspects of curatorial work is the privilege of bringing you great works of art that were rarely seen before their acquisition by the museum. Case in point: the Stammheim Missal, one of the greatest manuscripts… More»

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      #ThyCaptionBe: You Look Like Hell

      You captioned this detail. And we’re revealing the full story now.

      Escaping the in-laws or medieval Sea World? It’s actually an extreme punishment for a dress code violation. 

      Here’s the full story:

      The Christian tale of Saint Josaphat is roughly based on the life of the Buddha in a kind of medieval game of telephone, in which the sources for the text passed through Christian circles in the Middle East in the 8th century before appearing in European versions in the 11th century. 

      Here an unsuitably dressed guest—we can see that his tattered clothing and scruffy facial hair have no place at the well-dressed gathering—is cast into the dark, open mouth of a terrifying animal. 

      To make matters worse, the story is a parable in which Barlaam, Josaphat’s Christian teacher, describes the sinful who do not make the cut at the Last Judgment.

      Holiday Lesson: Always check the dress code.

      #ThyCaptionBe is a celebration of modern interpretations of medieval aesthetics. You guess what the heck is going on, then we myth-bust.


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