Imagining the Past in France

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

Did Parchment Smell? Your Manuscript Questions, Answered

Jean de Mandeville
Jean de Mandeville

“To make egg tempera paint, egg is mixed with water and pigment, which somewhat neutralizes the decomposition process of eggs, but it is also spread so thinly and dries so quickly that it never really has the chance to rot. Therefore it doesn’t smell.”
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Posted in Antiquities, Exhibitions and Installations, J. Paul Getty Museum, Manuscripts and Books

A Lasting War: Representing Troy in Ancient Greece and Medieval Europe

The Construction and Destruction of Troy, Orosius Master, Paris, 1405-6. In City of God (Cité de Dieu; original text in Latin); Saint Augustine, author; Raoul de Presles, translator. The Philip S. Collins Collection, gift of Mrs. Philip S. Collins in memory of her husband, 1945. Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Ms. 1945.65.1, fol. 66v

For when one sees a story illustrated, whether of Troy or something else, he sees the actions of the worthy men that lived in those times, just as though they were present.    —Richard de Fournival, Bestiare d’amours, ca. 1250 The… More»

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

Imagining the Culinary Past in France: Recipes for a Medieval Feast

The Performance of a Crusade Play at King Charles V's Feast (detail), Master of the Coronation of Charles VI, Paris, about 1375–80. From Great Chronicles of France (Grandes chroniques de France). Bibliothèque nationale de France, Paris. Ms. fr. 2813, fol. 473v
The Performance of a Crusade Play at King Charles V\'s Feast (detail), Master of the Coronation of Charles VI, Paris, about 1375–80. From Great Chronicles of France (Grandes chroniques de France). Bibliothèque nationale de France, Paris. Ms. fr. 2813, fol. 473v

In the French Middle Ages, as today, banquets were opportunities for the well-heeled to entertain guests in style. The set-up was simple: boards placed on trestles topped with white cloths, wine diluted with water in clay vessels, meats on five-day-old… More»

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      #ThyCaptionBe: Warnings to the Rich & Powerful

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

      It would be awesome if this was Medieval hangman, or a really awkward frat party, but it’s actually the result of a one-letter swap gone wrong in a book about the fates of the rich. 

      Here’s the full story:

      You sometimes regret what pops out unexpectedly when you open your mouth, but in this case, even the fish must have been quite surprised when a wooly lamb burst forth. 

      The stories in this text by Giovanni Boccaccio warn of the terrible fate that often awaits the rich and powerful. He uses here the example of King Polycrates, who tossed a ring into a river, hoping for good luck, and found it later in the mouth of a fish. 

      Someone got confused, though, and instead of a ring (in French, annel), what came out instead was a lamb (agnel). Apparently, neither the ring nor the lamb worked because the king was later hanged (background).

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

      08/31/15

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