The J. Paul Getty Museum

Samson and the Lion

Object Details


Samson and the Lion






Paris, France (Place Created)


about 1413 - 1415


Tempera colors, gold leaf, gold paint, and ink on parchment

Object Number:

Ms. 63 (96.MR.17), fol. 26v


Leaf: 42 × 29.6 cm (16 9/16 × 11 5/8 in.)

See more

See less

Object Description

Boccaccio's Concerning the Fates of Illustrious Men and Women includes such Biblical characters as Samson, the legendary warrior and one of the judges of ancient Israel, whose unbridled passions led to his downfall. In this miniature, the illuminator demonstrated Samson's unequaled strength. The bodies of man and beast are united in a pyramid, with Samson's victory ensured more by physical dominance than action. The artist conveyed the weight of Samson's body, the animal's tensile strength, the twist of its neck, and the manner in which Samson holds its mouth open, but without much sense of physical force. The pair seem as much engaged in a ballet as a struggle. In a technique characteristic of this workshop, two figures hidden in the trees at the right witness the scene. They provide a model for the reader of the manuscript, who, by looking at the image, also witnesses the event.

French Manuscript Illumination of the Late Middle Ages (August 3 to September 26, 1999)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), August 3 to September 26, 1999