The J. Paul Getty Museum

Mass for the Dead

Object Details

Title:

Mass for the Dead

Artist/Maker:

Willem Vrelant (Flemish, died 1481, active 1454 - 1481)

Culture:

Flemish

Place:

Bruges, Belgium (Place Created)

Date:

early 1460s

Medium:

Tempera colors, gold leaf, and ink on parchment

Object Number:

Ms. Ludwig IX 8 (83.ML.104), fol. 189

Dimensions:

Leaf: 25.6 × 17.3 cm (10 1/16 × 6 13/16 in.)

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Object Description

The black-robed figures that surround the draped coffin in this miniature are probably professional mourners, hired for the funeral. The crippled beggar on crutches approaching on the right was probably also hired for the occasion. The poor were considered especially good intercessors on behalf of the souls of the dead, so it became common during the later Middle Ages to arrange for the distribution of food and alms to the poor on the day of a funeral. On the left, four monks stand before an open choir book wearing elaborate copes, while a priest performs the Mass for the dead at the altar. The owner of this prayer book was meant to reflect on this image and the accompanying Office of the Dead on a daily basis as a reminder of humanity's mortality and the need for penitence and charity to achieve salvation.

Exhibitions
Exhibitions
The Apocalypse and Other Visions in Medieval Illuminated Manuscripts (April 16 to June 30, 1991)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum (Malibu), April 16 to June 30, 1991
The Art of Giving in the Middle Ages (November 21, 2000 to February 4, 2001)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), November 21, 2000 to February 4, 2001
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