Museum Home Past Exhibitions Imagining the Past in France, 1250–1500

November 16, 2010–February 6, 2011 at the Getty Center


Admission to the Getty Center is FREE. For visitor information, see information on planning a visit or call (310) 440-7300. All events are free, unless otherwise noted. Reservations are required for performances, lectures, seminars, and courses.


Manuscripts and Movies: From the Medieval to the Modern
Elizabeth Morrison, curator of manuscripts, J. Paul Getty Museum, and Kenneth Turan, film critic at the Los Angeles Times, discuss how both manuscripts of the Middle Ages and contemporary movies have been used to shape, and in some cases manipulate, perceptions about the past.

Please note that this lecture was incorrectly listed in some publications as beginning at 7:00 p.m. We apologize for the error.

Sunday, January 9, 2011, 3:00 p.m.
Getty Center, Harold M. Williams Auditorium
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How the French Made History: Manuscripts and Images of the Past in Medieval France
Anne D. Hedeman, professor of art history and medieval studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, examines how images in French manuscripts made history come alive for their medieval readers. Hedeman explores how artists in the Middle Ages envisioned the past to reveal how pictures could shape understandings of history.

Thursday, November 18, 2010, 7:00 p.m.
Getty Center, Harold M. Williams Auditorium

Curator's Gallery Talks

Elizabeth Morrison, curator of manuscripts, the J. Paul Getty Museum, leads a gallery talk on the exhibition. Meet under the stairs in the Museum Entrance Hall. Free; no reservations required.

Thursdays, November 18 and December 16, 2010, 1:30 p.m.
Wednesday, January 19, 2011, 1:30 p.m.
Getty Center, Museum galleries

Artist-at-Work Demonstration

Manuscript Illumination
Join artist Sylvana Barrett and explore the historic materials and techniques used in the art of manuscript illumination, with a special focus on camaieu—a rare style of 14th-century French illumination reserved for the finest of manuscripts. This is a free, drop-in program.

Sundays, November 7, 21, and 28; December 5 and 19, 2010; and January 2, 2011, 1:00–3:00 p.m.
Getty Center, Museum Studios


Gordon Getty Concert: Lionheart
Medieval author Guillaume de Machaut was lauded for his skill at writing both poetry and music, while enjoying the patronage of French royalty. The distinguished Lionheart vocal ensemble demonstrates the writer's lyrical mastery with a dazzling performance of selections from Remède de Fortune. Tickets $20; $15 students/seniors.

Saturday, December 4, 2010, 7:30 p.m.
Getty Center, Harold M. Williams Auditorium
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At the Restaurant

Special Menus to Celebrate the Exhibition
Special prix fixe menus are offered at the Getty Center Restaurant to celebrate the exhibition. Banquets were an integral aspect of life at the French court in the Middle Ages; they were used to enchant royalty, entertain visiting dignitaries, and bind the loyalty of knights. Meats, exotic spices, rich sauces, and sweet, buttery desserts were a privilege reserved for those in the highest circles of society. By partaking of this tasting menu, you will experience a feast literally fit for a king.


Imagining the Past Lunch Menu (38 KB)

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Imagining the Past Dinner Menu (42 KB)


Restaurant reservations are recommended. Call (310) 440-6810 or make reservations online.
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The Trial of the Duke of Alencon, Jean Fouquet, Tours, about 1459-60

Studio Courses

Master Class in Illumination: Camaieu
Encouraged by the refined tastes of court patrons, French artists of the 14th century created a tour de force style known as camaieu, in which elegant figures painted in a monochrome or grisaille technique were set against brightly colored backgrounds and enlivened with fine gilding. Explore this rare technique and create an illumination using materials and techniques specific to the period with artist Sylvana Barrett. Course fee $135 (includes lunch and materials).

Sunday, January 30, 2011, 10:30 a.m.–5:00 p.m.
Getty Center, Museum Studios
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The King's Table: A Culinary Workshop
Explore the culinary and artistic traditions of the medieval French court. Participants tour the exhibition, prepare a meal based on historic foods and recipes, and enjoy a class festin, or feast, together. Course fee $75. Open to 20 participants.

Thursday, December 9, 2010, 10:30–2:00 p.m.
Private Dining Room

Repeats Saturday, December 11, 2010, 4:00–7:30 p.m.
Private Dining Room

GettyGuide™ Audio Player

The images of French manuscripts enabled the past to come alive before the eyes of medieval readers. Listen to curators and historical fiction author Steve Berry talk about the lavish visual stories depicted in this exhibition. Pick up an audio player in the Museum Entrance Hall.