The J. Paul Getty Museum Thursday announced the gift of six rare Italian manuscript illustrations that will go on display in December.
The gift, from collectors James E. and Elizabeth J. Ferrell, were originally pages from a choir book made around 1400 for the Carthusian monastery of Santo Spirito in Farneta, Italy.
The book was commissioned by Niccolo di Lazzara, the archbishop of Lucca.
“Jim and Zibbie Ferrell have been longtime supporters of the Museum, and we are deeply grateful for this important gift,” Getty Museum Director Timothy Potts said. “Over the past two decades, they have been very generous and enthusiastic lenders of manuscripts and other works from their collection to exhibitions at both the Getty Center and Getty Villa. A number of their objects are included in the re-installation of the Villa that will be completed in April.”
“The gift of these six spectacular objects assures Jim and Zibbie a permanent place in the growth and enhancement of our manuscripts collection, and in particular adds greatly to our representation of 14th -century art from Central Italy,” he said.
The illustrations are from a so-called gradual, a choir book that contains the sung portions of the Mass. The vibrant illuminations were painted by Niccolo da Bologna, known for his expressive figures and crowded, action- filled narrative scenes.
The pages relate to important feast days of the church, including the Trinity, the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, and several related to individual saints.
“Niccolo da Bologna was the most prolific Bolognese illuminator of the late 14th century, and the Getty already owns two exceptional examples of his work,” says Elizabeth Morrison, senior curator in the Department of Manuscripts. “Each of the initials demonstrates Niccolo’s ability to render figures with a liveliness that seems to allow them to leap off the page. He is an artist whose rich and varied oeuvre deserves to be represented through multiple examples.”
The pieces will make their debut in the upcoming exhibition, Artful Words: Calligraphy in Illuminated Manuscripts on view at the J. Paul Getty Museum from Dec. 18 through April 7, 2019.
In other news, a rare Michelangelo drawing went on display at the Getty Museum.