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Art Diary

The Book of Marvels: Wonder and Fear in the Middle Ages

9 June 2024

Bulls, mules and arable farmers are in the company of devils, dragons and unicorns in The Book of the Marvels of the World, an illuminated manuscript made in France in the 1460s. Weaving together medieval tales, ancient history and ‘eyewitness’ accounts, the book was designed to offer glimpses of faraway lands such as Iceland, Syria and Sri Lanka. It may come as no surprise that the further away the territory, the more fantastical the creatures get – although Italy contains its fair share of rodent/fish hybrids and horned demons hungry for human flesh. The creator of the illuminations is known today as the Master of the Geneva Boccaccio and this free exhibition of The Book of Marvels at the Getty Center is a fine way to get acquainted with his vivid imagination and lively drawing technique (11 June–25 August).

Find out more from the Getty Center’s website.

Preview below | View Apollo’s Art Diary

India (c. 1460–65), Master of the Geneva Boccaccio. J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles

The Israelites’ Fear of the Giants from World Chronicle (c. 1400–10), unknown artist. J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles

King Avenir, Josaphat, and Nachor Behold the Golden Calf from Barlaam and Josaphat (1469; detail), follower of Hans Schilling from the Workshop of Diebold Lauber. J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles