More Getty Buys: Caligula's Dad and a Pink Qur'an
|Bust of Germanicus, 20-40 AD. J. Paul Getty Museum|
The Getty Museum continues to buy. Just announced is a Roman bust of Germanicus, adopted son of the emperor Tiberius and father of Caligula. Despite his notorious relations, Germanicus was considered a model of Roman virtue. The bust was in the collection of the Earls of Elgin until 2012. It was then auctioned at Sotheby's New York for $8.15 million.
This is among the most accomplished and best-preserved of ten known versions of its portrait type. Though it shows a youthful Germanicus, before he shaved his beard, it was created after his death, perhaps by poisoning, in 19 AD. The bust is 20-1/2 inches high.
|Leaf from the Pink Qur'an, 1200s|
New to the manuscripts collection are two leaves from the so-called Pink Qur'an of 13th-century Spain. The rose-tinted paper would have been a luxurious material suited to the holy text. The original manuscript must have spanned 20 volumes. Leaves from the Pink Qur'an are found in collections worldwide and come on the art market with some regularity.
The Getty acquired a Qur'an fragment (from 9th-century Tunisia) with the Ludwig collection in 1983, but it has not added any further Islamic manuscripts until now. The Pink Qur'an leaves are evidently part of the drive to broaden the cultural and geographic reach of the collection, as seen in recent purchases of manuscripts from Ethiopia and Armenia and a spectacular Hebrew Pentateuch.
|Sarah Stone, Rupicola Rupicola, 1788|
Another Getty priority is adding works by women. Topping off a year that saw an Artemisia Gentileschi painting and an Adélaïde Labille-Guiard pastel are two watercolors by the lesser-known zoological artist Sarah Stone (English, about 1760-1844). Stone is often compared to Maria Sibylla Merian, the German artist-naturalist of the previous century. Sir Ashton Lever commissioned Stone to document specimens in his Leverian Museum, London. Lever's collection and Stone's watercolors were eventually dispersed, with a large group of Stone's work ending up in Honolulu's Bishop Museum. Stone's art is not otherwise much seen in U.S. collections.
Stone took on the Frankensteinian challenge of breathing life into taxidermy specimens. Both the Getty sheets show exotic birds. Rupicola Rupicola, the Guianan cock-of-the-rock, is now a popular specimen at the San Diego Zoo.
The Getty's sculpture and decorative arts department has added a Rococo-style Longcase Regulator Clock by Balthazar Lieutaud. It's from the collection of Horace Wood Brock, who gave and sold a number of French decorative objects to the museum in 2015. Formerly on loan to the Frick Collection, the clock features a gilt figure of Time brandishing an hourglass and scythe.
The photography collection bought works by LGBTQ artists working in a magic-realist mode: the PaJaMa collective (Paul Cadmus, Jared French, and Margaret Hoening French), George Platt Lynes, and Tourmaline.
Germanicus and other results of this shopping will go on view at the Getty Center Dec. 14, 2021, in "Recent Acquisitions 2021: Collecting for the Museum."
|PaJaMa collective, Paul Cadmus and Jared French, about 1940. © Paul Cadmus/Artist Rights Society (ARS), NY © Estates of Jared and Margaret Hoening French|
With other acquisitions such as the one given not long ago by the Ahmanson Foundation, good for the Huntington too.
Too bad the LA area doesn't have a publicly-run, publicly-operated art museum in between those two locations.
Well, at least George Lucas is trying to make up for that.
The Germanicus portrait bust is riveting, with its bearded profile. Wow.
The Koranic leaves are so sophisticated, they appear to be out of a dream.
I looked at the Met and Brooklyn databases for Sarah Stone. Neither has holdings. But trust Morgan to have something: a fine watercolor and opaque watercolor over graphite: Greater Racket-tailed Drongo (acc. no. 1998.30).
And who doesn't love a little PaJaMa? Awesome catch!
As an aside, as Getty is leaning in to universality with its purchases, other venues are retreating.
Example: I mourned the loss back in 2007 by the Hispanic Society of America of one of the world's treasures. Its whereabouts now is unknown (?).
I penned the following on CultureGrrl's web page in the day:
"Sadly, the sale by the Hispanic Society of America of unique Koranic manuscripts for fast cash is yet another case of public art treasures being shed in the name of 'mission shift.'”
"The Hispanic Society of America does not overstate the quality of its collections as 'unparalleled in their scope and quality outside the Iberian Peninsula, addressing nearly every aspect of culture in Spain.' Perhaps I am wrong, but when invading forces impose Islam as the dominant state religion in a previously Christian country for eight centuries, from A.D. 711 until 1492, and that country’s Christian population is in a continuous war of reconquest to rid the infidels, leading to a fervor of Christianity in the 16th century that manifested itself in the Inquisition, I would say the earliest complete, dated Koran would be well at home in such a museum as a great art-historical treasure. At least the museum founder believed this to be so.
"I  live in [Manhattan's] Inwood [section], and spent a year’s worth of Saturdays in the neighborhood Hispanic Society library, studying Velázquez, Zurbarán and others of the Sevillian school. The Society is a national treasure, and this loss is heavy on us."
Hidden talent generations ago does show how politics and social power plays have played a role in the world of fame or fortune. Or why there has been a lack of same.
Regrettably, in today's era that's being turned on its head. So now a lack of talent is increasingly less important than the way that something or someone fits a cultural narrative or political identity.
Of course, "talent" is less important now.
The Impressionists wanted it that way.
Here's the former Met Director on the subject:
Or was that always the case?