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Josaphat Speaking to the Merchant Barlaam about the Precious Gem
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Follower of Hans Schilling
French, 1469
Tempera colors on paper
11 1/4 x 8 in.
MS. LUDWIG XV 9, FOL. 43V

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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.