Book of the Deeds of Alexander the Great
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Master of the Jardin de vertueuse consolation
French and Flemish, Lille and Bruges, about 1470-1475
Tempera colors, gold leaf, gold paint, and ink on parchment
17 x 13 in.

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The Getty Museum's imposing manuscript of Portuguese humanist Vasco da Lucena's Book of the Deeds of Alexander the Great is the product of the interest in classical antiquity that characterized Renaissance humanism. The text is a French translation (Livre des fais d'Alexandre le grant), completed in 1468, of a biography of the Macedonian conqueror Alexander the Great by the first-century Roman writer Quintus Curtius Rufus. In this manuscript's text and miniatures, Alexander is presented as a complex figure, a man capable of bravery and good judgment but also subject to human foibles. Both the positive and negative lessons of Alexander's story were considered valuable for a Renaissance prince and military leader such as Charles the Bold, duke of Burgundy, to whom Vasco dedicated his text.

The Getty Museum's copy of this widely diffused text, a large and lavishly illuminated manuscript with fourteen miniatures, was probably made for an aristocrat associated with the Burgundian court, someone who would have particularly appreciated the manuscript's scenes of battle and court intrigue. While the scribe Jean du Quesne copied the text in Lille, the anonymous illuminator, who has been identified as the Master of the Jardin de vertueuse consolation, worked in Bruges.

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