Josaphat Speaking to the Merchant Barlaam about the Precious Gem

Object Details


Josaphat Speaking to the Merchant Barlaam about the Precious Gem


Follower of Hans Schilling (German, active 1459 - 1467)

from the Workshop of Diebold Lauber (German, active 1427 - 1467)




Hagenau, Alsace, France (formerly Germany) (Place created)




Ink, colored washes, and tempera colors on paper


Leaf: 28.6 x 20.3 cm (11 1/4 x 8 in.)

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Within the royal residence's vaulted audience hall, Barlaam holds a large gem before the young Indian prince Josaphat. Barlaam, a monk, gains access to Josaphat by disguising himself as an elegant merchant and announcing that he has a precious gem with magical properties. The prince is intrigued and admits the stranger. Barlaam proceeds not to describe the gem and its powers, but to quote Christ's parable of the sower--recounted in the Gospels--in which only the seeds that fall on good earth bring forth fruiting plants. Josaphat listens and declares that he is interested in hearing the word of salvation from Barlaam, indicating that he--like the good earth receiving the seeds--is prepared to receive the Christian message that the monk has to offer.

Related Works
A Treasury of Fifteenth Century Manuscript Illumination (March 26 to June 16, 2002)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), March 26 to June 16, 2002