A bust by Messerschmidt and an illuminated manuscript for the Getty Museum

1. Franz Xaver Messerschmidt
The Vexed Man
Los Angeles, J. Paul Getty Museum
Photo : J. Paul Getty Museum

25/02/08 — Acquisitions — Los Angeles, Getty Museum — Early 2005 the Getty Museum had tried to purchase The Ill-Humored Man by Franz-Xaver Messerschmidt in lead, at Sotheby’s New York, and which had finally been acquired by the Louvre (see news item, in French, of 27/01/05).
The American museum’s frustration will not have lasted long as it has just become the owner of a bust by the same artist, The Vexed Man (ill. 1) on the Austrian art market. Of the 69 “character heads” executed by Messerschmidt, 49 were displayed in 1793. The work acquired by the Getty is number 21 of the catalogue which appeared at that time.
The bust is typical of the artist by its overstated representation of feeling (it is hard to glimpse here a vexed man, and the title of the one that joined the Louvre could be just as apt) ; its originality lies in the technique : alabaster, which was rare in the XVIIIth century.

2. England, c. 1190
Christ Led By
His Parents

Los Angeles, J. Paul Getty Museum
Photo : J. Paul Getty Museum

Another acquisition announced by the Getty : an English manuscript, the Vita Christi. It is unique in that it contains two sets of illuminations : 51 date back to the XIIth century (ill. 2) and 57 to the XVth. The first, which begins with the images of Joachim and Ann, the parents of the Virgin, is for the most part devoted to the life of Christ and ends with The Death of the Virgin. The manuscript contains some scenes which are rarely represented such as Herod’s Suicide.
The second cycle summarizes world history much as it is recounted in the Bible, from the Fall of the Rebel Angels to the Creation and the Apocalypse.

Version française

Didier Rykner, lundi 25 février 2008

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