Tondal Appears to be Dead

Object Details


Tondal Appears to be Dead


Simon Marmion (Flemish, active 1450 - 1489)




Ghent Belgium Valenciennes France (Place created)




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

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Tondal fell dead...without any further movement of foot or hand. All the signs of a dead man manifested themselves on him: his eyes rolled, his nose was pinched, his lips grew thin, his chin receded, and his arms and legs grew stiff.

Drawing on vivid details from the text describing Tondal's appearance, the artist represented him in a dead faint on the floor. Around him hover the stunned onlookers; two women clasp their hands and bow toward him in grief. According to the story, because Tondal's body was still warm, he was not buried. Meanwhile, in his comatose state, Tondal's soul saw "an awful and horrifying multitude of devils who soon invaded the house as well as the air all over the city." The devils are represented as almost translucent figures penned in gold on the darkness above the onlookers' heads. This marks the beginning of Tondal's vision, in which an angel leads his soul through Hell, allowing him only a glimpse of the rewards of Paradise. Like Ebenezer Scrooge in Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol, Tondal will lead a better life upon his return.

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Illuminated Flemish Manuscripts of the Late Middle Ages (July 26 to October 16, 1988)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum (Malibu), July 26 to October 16, 1988
"The Visions of Tondal" and Manuscripts from the Time of Margaret of York (April 17 to July 1, 1990)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum (Malibu), April 17 to July 1, 1990
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 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