The Temperate and the Intemperate

Object Details

Title:

The Temperate and the Intemperate

Artist/Maker(s):

Master of the Dresden Prayer Book (Flemish, active about 1480 - 1515)

Culture:

Flemish

Date:

about 1475 - 1480

Medium:

Tempera colors and ink on parchment

Dimensions:

Leaf: 17.5 x 19.4 cm (6 7/8 x 7 5/8 in.)

See more

See less

The Memorable Deeds and Sayings of the Romans, a compilation of stories about ancient customs and heroes written in the first century A.D. by Valerius Maximus, was widely used in the Middle Ages as a textbook for rhetoric. The museum's cutting comes from a French translation of the original Latin text made for Jan Crabbe, abbot of the Cistercian Abbey at Duinen, south of Bruges.

This large miniature appeared at the beginning of book two, Concerning Morals and Customs. In a spacious dining hall, Valerius, dressed in blue on the left, instructs the Emperor Tiberius, to whom he dedicated his book, on the value of temperance. Valerius points out the joyous and intemperate peasants at the front table, who cavort wildly, drink, fall down, and sleep. In contrast, the nobles in the back are models of temperance: evenly spaced at the orderly table, their bodies rigid, they eat with great sobriety. Through this contrast the illuminator suggested that nobles are inherently more temperate, an interpretation that does not derive from the text. Yet in the hands of the witty Master of the Dresden Prayer Book, the bad example of the pleasure-loving peasants is easily the more endearing one.

Related Works
Exhibitions
Manuscripts and Americans: An Exhibition in Honor of Franklin D. Murphy (July 21 to October 18, 1992)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum, (Malibu), July 21 to October 18, 1992
Illuminating the Past: Historical Texts of the Middle Ages and Renaissance (February 2 to April 11, 1993)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum, (Malibu), February 2 to April 11, 1993
Illuminated Secular Manuscripts (January 24 to April 9, 1995)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum, (Malibu), January 24 to April 9, 1995
Illuminating the Mind's Eye: Memory and Medieval Book Arts (July 23 to October 6, 1996)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum, (Malibu), July 23 to October 6, 1996
Masterpieces of Medieval and Renaissance Manuscript illumination (December 16, 1997 to March 22, 1998)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), December 16, 1997 to March 22, 1998
Flemish Illumination of the Late Middle Ages (November 3, 1998 to January 17, 1999)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), November 3, 1998 to January 17, 1999
A Treasury of Fifteenth Century Manuscript Illumination (March 26 to June 16, 2002)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), March 26 to June 16, 2002
Cloistered world, Open books (August 16 to November 17, 2002)
  • Grootseminarie, (Bruges), August 16 to November 17, 2002
Illuminating the Renaissance: The Triumph of Flemish Manuscript Painting in Europe (June 17, 2003 to February 22, 2004)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), June 17 to September 7, 2003
  • Royal Academy of Arts (London), November 29, 2003 to February 22, 2004
Shrine and Shroud: Textiles in Illuminated Manuscripts (June 28 to October 2, 2005)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), June 28 to October 2, 2005