The J. Paul Getty Museum

Orsines Presenting a Gift to Alexander and the Execution of Orsines

Object Details

Title:

Orsines Presenting a Gift to Alexander and the Execution of Orsines

Artist/Maker:

Master of the Jardin de vertueuse consolation and assistant (Flemish, active 3rd quarter of 15th century)

Culture:

French and Flemish

Place:

Lille (written), France; Bruges (illuminated), Belgium (Place Created)

Date:

about 1470–1475

Medium:

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

Object Number:

Ms. Ludwig XV 8 (83.MR.178), fol. 226

Dimensions:

Leaf: 43.2 × 33 cm (17 × 13 in.)

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Object Description

Inside a palatial hall, Orsines, a Persian military leader, kneels before Alexander to offer a gift. As Quintus Curtius Rufus's text recounts, although Orsines gives lavish gifts to Alexander's retinue, he snubs Alexander's lover Bagoas. Furious at being spurned, Bagoas turns Alexander against Orsines. Consistent with his increasingly immoral behavior, Alexander, under the sway of his lover, orders Orsines's death. The execution takes place outdoors at the right. Here, as Alexander and Bagaos watch from the palace steps, an executioner raises his sword above the kneeling Orsines.

Although described in Curtius's account as a eunuch, Vasco's translation turned Bagoas into a woman, considered by the fifteenth-century audience to be a more appropriate match for Alexander. The illuminator followed suit, representing Bagoas as a beautiful woman, richly attired in Burgundian fashion.

In this miniature, which opens the last chapter of Vasco's text, the illuminator presented the story in two sequential moments arranged side by side. Yet, despite the appearance that the interior and exterior correspond to different views of the same building, the landscape on the right differs from that seen through the door at the left and is shallower than the deep interior space on the left.

Exhibitions
Exhibitions
"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
Illuminating the Past: Historical Texts of the Middle Ages and Renaissance (February 2 to April 11, 1993)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum (Malibu), February 2 to April 11, 1993
The Medieval Bookshelf: From Romance to Astronomy (January 24 to April 9, 2006)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), January 24 to April 9, 2006
Illuminated Manuscripts from Belgium and the Netherlands (August 24, 2010 to February 6, 2011)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), August 24, 2010 to February 6, 2011
Traversing the Globe through Illuminated Manuscripts (January 22 to June 26, 2016)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), January 22 to June 26, 2016