The Beast Acheron

Object Details

Title:

The Beast Acheron

Artist/Maker(s):

Simon Marmion (Flemish, active 1450 - 1489)

Culture:

Franco-Flemish

Place(s):

Ghent Belgium Valenciennes France (Place created)

Date:

1475

Medium:

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

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In this miniature, Tondal's wandering soul observes the punishments meted out in Hell to the greedy. The illuminator has envisioned the entrance to Hell as the mouth of the beast Acheron, whose name derives from Greek mythology, referring to the river in Hades or Hell. This creature rolls its horrid eyes, its mouth gaping threateningly wide; two devils impaled on its sharp teeth hold its mouth open. Inside, souls endure brutal torment in a fiery furnace. Flames from this hot pit, represented with wispy brushstrokes of blue, red, orange, yellow, and green, lap about the edges of the beast's upper lip. The artist, Simon Marmion, represented Tondal's soul as a naked and vulnerable figure. In the Middle Ages, souls were commonly represented as nude human figures, expressing the idea that the trappings of the material world are shed in death. Except for the angel's blue robe, which is brightened with gold flecks and lines, Marmion saturated this scene with the dark, vivid colors he reserved for Hell.

Related Works
Exhibitions
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  • The J. Paul Getty Museum, (Malibu), July 26 to October 16, 1988
Recent Acquisitions of Illuminated Manuscripts, 1984-1989 (July 17 to September 30, 1989)
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"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
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  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), November 3, 1998 to January 17, 1999
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
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  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), May 29 to August 12, 2012