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Getty pays $6.2 million at Sotheby's for rare Flemish manuscript

December 06, 2012|By Jori Finkel
  • A Naval Battle; Antwerp (detail view), after 1464, from the Roman de Gillion de Trazegnies, fol. 21. Lieven van Lathem (1430-1493).
A Naval Battle; Antwerp (detail view), after 1464, from the Roman de Gillion… (The J. Paul Getty Trust )

Timothy Potts has made his first major purchase as the new Getty Museum director: He bought Lieven van Lathem’s illuminated manuscript Roman de Gillion de Trazegnies for $6.2 million at Sotheby’s Wednesday night in London.

The manuscript includes eight half-page miniatures, like the one shown in detail above. There are only three other manuscripts containing this story of a nobleman's adventures in Egypt.

In a statement, Potts called it a “richly illustrated manuscript by the greatest illuminator of the Flemish High Renaissance.”

In an interview with the L.A. Times for a story in the Dec. 9 Arts & Books section, he described manuscripts as a potential growth area for the Getty, while praising the current collection.

“Our manuscript collection is regarded as second to only the Morgan in New York in terms of its quality — it doesn’t have the depth and number of works for obvious reasons,” he said, comparing the ages of the institutions.  “But considering the collection was formed in the 1980s, it’s an extraordinary accomplishment.”

This acquisition is an early sign that Potts has important support from Getty Trust President James Cuno and the Getty board in making acquisitions. Both must approve all museum acquisitions over $1 million.

Check back on Culture Monster this weekend for more on Potts’ collecting history and philosophy.

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