Bathsheba Bathing

Object Details


Bathsheba Bathing


Jean Bourdichon (French, 1457 - 1521, active Tours, France, early 1480s - 1521)




Tours, France (Place created)


1498 - 1499


Tempera and gold on parchment


Leaf: 24.3 x 17 cm (9 9/16 x 6 11/16 in.)

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This miniature of a radiant Bathsheba in her bath originally opened the seven penitential psalms in the manuscript known as the Hours of Louis XII. In the Middle Ages it was thought that King David wrote the seven penitential psalms in atonement for his sins, the greatest of which was seducing the young woman Bathsheba and murdering her husband. In this scene, Bathsheba is transformed into the temptress of King David, lingering naked in her bath and gazing unabashedly out at the viewer. Her abundant blond hair glows on the page, and her high, small breasts, and broad hips accorded with the highest standards of feminine beauty of the time. Clearly, she was intended to appeal to the book's patron, King Louis XII of France.

The Hours of Louis XII was one of the greatest French manuscripts of its time. Only sixteen of the manuscript's original complement of miniatures have come to light, and the Getty has acquired three of them. The other two are a frontispiece depicting the king kneeling in prayer, and a miniature of The Presentation in the Temple.

Related Works
The Bernard H. Breslauer Collection of Manuscript Illuminations (December 9, 1992 to April 4, 1993)
A Masterpiece Reconstructed: The Hours of Louis XII (October 18, 2005 to May 1, 2006) (18)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), October 18, 2005 to January 8, 2006
  • Victoria and Albert Museum, (London), February 2 to May 1, 2006
French Manuscript Illumination in the Middle Ages (January 23 to April 15, 2007) (18)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), January 23 to April 15, 2007
Rare Finds: Ten Years of Collecting Manuscripts (February 12 to April 20, 2008) (18)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), February 12 to April 20, 2008
L'Art à Tours autour de 1500, entre Moyen-Âge et Renaissance (March 17 to June 17, 2012) (72h)
  • Musée des Beaux-Arts (Tours), March 17 to June 17, 2012
Gardens of the Renaissance (May 28 to August 11, 2013) (72h)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), May 28 to August 11, 2013
Related Media
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    Audio: Bathsheba Bathing (Exhibit: RENAISSANCE_GARDENS)