Getty Displays Medieval Illuminated Pages after Legal Battle Finally Ends


GetyBibleBy Jori Finkel

LOS ANGELES (The Art Newspaper) — Visitors to the Getty Museum in Los Angeles can see for themselves what a legal battle that raged for five years was all about. Two brilliantly illuminated pages —part of a table of contents from the Zeyt’un Gospels, a Medieval Armenian bible — are on show as part of the exhibition “Traversing the Globe Through Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts” until June 26.

The Getty bought eight of these contents pages, known as a canon table, for $950,000 from an Armenian-American family in 1994. But their proper ownership has been in question since 2010, when a US branch of the Armenian Apostolic Church brought a lawsuit against the Getty, maintaining that the pages had been looted during the Armenian Genocide of the First World War.

The lawsuit was finally settled last year, when the Getty acknowledged the church as the rightful owner and agreed to pay undisclosed lawyers’ fees. The church agreed to donate the pages to the museum.

The pages are by the 13th-century Armenian master Toros Roslin, who worked in tempera and gold paint on parchment. A page on show at the Getty for the first time in more than a decade reveals how he blends natural forms such as twisting pomegranate trees and roosters with architecture, using a brilliant palette of green, gold, red and blue.