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

The Manuscript Files: Dancing Your Way to the End of the World

The current exhibition Gothic Grandeur features a number of works illustrating the Apocalypse, the last book of the Bible that recounts Saint John’s vision of the end of time. This leaf comes from a manuscript of the 1200s made in Spain, which had a long tradition of producing impressive and expressive Apocalypse manuscripts.

The Lamb Defeating the Ten Kings / Spanish

The Lamb Defeating the Ten Kings, Spanish, about 1220–35. Leaf from Beatus of Liébana, Commentary on the Apocalypse. Tempera colors and gold leaf on parchment, 11 9/16 x 9 1/4 in. The J. Paul Getty Museum, Ms. 77, recto

The image illustrates the portion of the Apocalypse describing a great battle taking place between the Lamb of God and ten kings who personify the ten horns of the beast ridden by the Harlot of Babylon. Five of the kings appear in the top portion of the leaf, and five below.

Detail of the Lamb Defeating the Ten Kings / Spanish

Those in the upper scene wait in line with swords and spears to face their opponent.

Their adversary is a lamb, usually not a creature associated with violence, but here looking quite comfortable with sword and shield. The gruesomeness of the scene is offset by a restrained elegance that characterizes the figures.

The two kings at the center seem to dance their way towards the lamb, as light on their feet as Fred Astaire, despite their deadly purpose. The artist directs further attention to the effortless grace of their feet through the use of a small and charming detail—each of the kings sports a pair of snappy red socks.

Detail of the Lamb Defeating the Ten Kings / Spanish

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      Olympian Census #4: Aphrodite

      Get the stats on your favorite (and not-so-favorite) gods and goddesses on view at the Getty Center.

      Roman name: Venus

      Employment: Goddess of Love and Beauty

      Place of residence: Mount Olympus

      Parents: Born out of sea foam formed when Uranus’s castrated genitals were thrown into the ocean

      Marital status: Married to Hephaestus, the God of Blacksmiths, but had many lovers, both immortal and mortal

      Offspring: Aeneas, Cupid, Eros, Harmonia, Hermaphroditos, and more

      Symbol: Dove, swan, and roses

      Special talent: Being beautiful and sexy could never have been easier for this Greek goddess

      Highlights reel:

      • Zeus knew she was trouble when she walked in (Sorry, Taylor Swift) to Mount Olympus for the first time. So Zeus married Aphrodite to his son Hephaestus (Vulcan), forming the perfect “Beauty and the Beast” couple.
      • When Aphrodite and Persephone, the queen of the underworld, both fell in love with the beautiful mortal boy Adonis, Zeus gave Adonis the choice to live with one goddess for 1/3 of the year and the other for 2/3. Adonis chose to live with Aphrodite longer, only to die young.
      • Aphrodite offered Helen, the most beautiful mortal woman, to Paris, a Trojan prince, to win the Golden Apple from him over Hera and Athena. She just conveniently forgot the fact that Helen was already married. Oops. Hello, Trojan War!

      Olympian Census is a 12-part series profiling gods in art at the Getty Center.

      08/03/15

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