Imagining the Past in France, 1250–1500

The Getty, Los Angeles ›
November 16 2010–February 6 2011

In the Middle Ages, history played such an integral role in French culture that some of the greatest imagery of the period is found within the covers of historical manuscripts.

Illuminations enabled heroic figures of the past—the biblical King David, Alexander the Great, the Holy Roman Emperor Charlemagne—to come alive before the eyes of medieval readers. Serving as both exciting narratives and propaganda, such images were immensely successful at the French court.

On view exclusively at the J. Paul Getty Museum, this major international loan exhibition features rare manuscripts drawn from the collections of more than twenty-five of the world's most famous museums and libraries. The books are supplemented with ivories, tapestries, and metalwork that demonstrate how historical tales leapt from the illuminated page into other artistic forms.

Image: Lead-glazed earthenware floor tile with inlaid design illustrating scene from the medieval romance of Tristram and Isolde.

Lead-glazed earthenware floor tile