Museum Acquires Ethiopian Book

Getty Museum adds rare Ethiopian book (Los Angeles Times)

By Suzanne Muchnic
Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

July 30, 2008

The J. Paul Getty Museum has added a rare Ethiopian Gospel book to its collection of illuminated manuscripts. Created around 1504-05 with five full-page paintings and many ornamental touches, it is one of the few such volumes to have survived wars and a Muslim purge of early Christian imagery in Ethiopia.

Purchased at an undisclosed price from a private collection in France, the new acquisition will go on view Aug. 12 in “Faces of Power and Piety,” an exhibition of portraiture in illuminated manuscripts at the Getty Center.

“This is a wonderful addition to the collection, visually and culturally,” said Thomas Kren, the Getty’s curator of manuscripts. “It’s a great and beautiful object. And it belongs to the classic tradition of Gospel books, one of the greatest vehicles for Christian art. Within that context, it’s a completely distinctive variation.”

The book — which measures 13 5/8 by 10 1/4 inches — contains full-page illuminations of the Virgin and Child and evangelists Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. The portraits are painted in a bold style that Kren described as “almost modern.” Ethiopian illuminators favored blocks of vivid color and strong patterns, including zigzag motifs on textiles and clothing. In the Getty’s example, architectural borders enhance an eight-page concordance, or index, of Gospel stories; abstract designs frame other sections. Read More.

1 Response to “Museum Acquires Ethiopian Book”


  1. 1 Abram Jul 30th, 2008 at 6:08 am

    This is wonderful!

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