The J. Paul Getty Museum

Scipio Lying in Bed Dreaming; Guillaume de Lorris Lying in Bed Dreaming

Object Details


Scipio Lying in Bed Dreaming; Guillaume de Lorris Lying in Bed Dreaming






Paris, France (Place Created)


about 1405


Tempera colors, gold leaf, and ink on parchment bound between pasteboard covered with dark red morocco

Object Number:

Ms. Ludwig XV 7 (83.MR.177), fol. 1


Leaf: 36.7 × 26 cm (14 7/16 × 10 1/4 in.)

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Object Description

"Many men say that there is nothing in dreams but fables and lies, but one may have dreams which are not deceitful, whose import becomes quite clear afterward."

So wrote Guillaume de Lorris at the beginning of the Romance of the Rose. His words reminded readers of the importance of dreams and of the long-held belief in their ability to predict future events. In fact, the romance's entire narrative unfolds during the course of the narrator's dream.

On the left of this page, the Roman general Scipio lies asleep. Medieval writers and thinkers often used his dream that he would conquer a Carthaginian colony in Spain as a famous example of a dream that came true. At the right, the narrator of the Romance of the Rose, both the lover in the text and its author, lies asleep in an almost identical bed. But while Scipio slumbers in a realistic bedchamber, the narrator lies asleep in the lush garden of his dream world. By placing the two scenes side by side, the artist bolstered the author's claim that the narrator's dream tells the truth and predicts what will come.

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
Gardens of the Renaissance (May 28 to August 11, 2013)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), May 28 to August 11, 2013