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Unknown artist, Liber Floridus, 1460. French. Parchment. 16 1/16 × 11 1/4 in.
Unknown artist, Liber Floridus, 1460. French. Parchment. 16 1/16 × 11 1/4 in.
The Hague, Koninklijke Bibliotheek, National Library of the Netherlands

Art Pick: Medieval Menagerie: Book of Beasts at the Getty Center

Long before there was Instagram or even Animal Planet, there was the bestiary. A favorite form of illustrated encyclopedia of the Middle Ages in Europe, these fanciful zoological compendiums depicted real and mythic creatures with equal research and acceptance, from bunnies to unicorns, griffins and dragons to whales and wolves. The Getty Center’s new exhibition Book of Beasts: The Bestiary in the Medieval World is an epic survey of some 100 works representing a third of the world’s institutional holdings of this genre.

Unknown artist. Aquamanile in the Form of a Unicorn, about 1425 - 1450. German. Copper alloy. 15 1/2 × 11 1/2 × 4 7/16 in.
Unknown artist. Aquamanile in the Form of a Unicorn, about 1425 - 1450. German. Copper alloy. 15 1/2 × 11 1/2 × 4 7/16 in.
Courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art

Besides a panoply of magical parchments, there are sculptures, tapestries, design objects and paintings as well as modern and contemporary interpretations. The show was curated by Elizabeth Morrison and takes its inspiration from the priceless Northumberland Bestiary (c. 1250) which lives in the Getty’s collection.

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The Getty Center, 1200 Getty Center Dr., Brentwood; (310) 440-7300, getty.edu; Tue. - Fri., 10am-5:30pm, Sat., 10am-9pm; May 14 - August 18; free.

Edmond Variel and Jules-Dominique Morniroli and Maurice Darantière. Bestiaire Fabuleux, 1950. French. Ink. 15 1/4 × 11 7/16 × 1 3/16 in. © 2019 Artist Rights Society (ARS), New York/ ADAGP, Paris
Edmond Variel and Jules-Dominique Morniroli and Maurice Darantière. Bestiaire Fabuleux, 1950. French. Ink. 15 1/4 × 11 7/16 × 1 3/16 in. © 2019 Artist Rights Society (ARS), New York/ ADAGP, Paris
The Walters Art Museum, Baltimore
Unknown artist, Three Panels from a Casket with Scenes from Courtly Romances, 1300 - 1350 or later. French. Ivory. 3 7/8 × 10 3/16 × 3/8 inches
Unknown artist, Three Panels from a Casket with Scenes from Courtly Romances, 1300 - 1350 or later. French. Ivory. 3 7/8 × 10 3/16 × 3/8 inches
Courtesy Cleveland Museum of Art

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