The Getty Museum and the Zeyt'un Gospels custody battle

14 Nov 2011 7:33 AM | Anonymous

The Getty Museum and the Zeyt'un Gospels custody battle


In the absence of clear-cut facts, the question is where, ethically and culturally, eight pages removed from the Armenian masterwork should reside.

November 13, 2011

The medieval illuminated manuscript known as the Zeyt'un Gospels was rumored to hold supernatural powers that would protect the Armenian people. Whether or not that's the case, the manuscript itself has eluded destruction. Created by the Armenian illuminator T'oros Roslin in 1256 for Constantine I, the head of the Armenian Orthodox Church's Holy See of the Great House of Cilicia, the book passed through unknown numbers of hands, survived the Armenian genocide and ended up in a museum of ancient manuscripts in Yerevan. There it sits today.

But it is missing eight pages undefined folios, really. There's no mystery about where they are. The J. Paul Getty Museum bought them from an Armenian American family in Massachusetts for just under $1 million in 1994. They are elaborately painted canon tables, sort of an appendix to the gospels. One of the pages, so rich with detail that it looks like a mosaic, hangs on a wall of the Getty in Los Angeles. The others are in storage.,0,3288486,print.story

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