Getty Museum buys illuminated 700-year-old Bible

The J. Paul Getty Museum announced the acquisition of the Rothschild Pentateuch on Wednesday. Brining to the United States one of the greatest illuminated Jewish manuscripts to have survived from the Middle Ages.

Dated from 1296, the text is a brilliant departure from the common convention Jewish art is more textual than visual due to a tradition of avoiding the painted image, the artist who created the Rothschild Pentateuch was inspired to paint vivid, brilliant works depicting animals and humans that blend with outstanding Hebrew caligraphy.

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“The Rothschild Pentateuch will be the greatest High Medieval Hebrew manuscript in the United States, and one of the most important illuminated Hebrew Bibles of any period,” says Timothy Potts, director of the J. Paul Getty Museum.

“Its richly illuminated pages – a great rarity in the thirteenth century – make it a work of outstanding quality and importance that represents the pinnacle of artistic achievement of its day. It will be one of the most signal treasures of the Department of Manuscripts and indeed of the Getty Museum overall.”

The Rothschild Pentateuch will make its debut at the Getty Center in Art of Three Faiths: A Torah, a Bible, and a Qur’an on view August 7, 2018 to February 3, 2019, an exhibition showcasing the sacred texts of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.

Three spectacular examples from the Getty’s permanent collection, including a Christian Bible and a Qur’an together with the newly acquired Torah, will be featured in this spotlight show.