Getty Adds 11th-Century Manuscript, Annibale Carracci Painting

The Annunciation to the Shepherds in the Irmengard Codex. German, after 1053. Getty Museum. Images courtesy of Dr. Guenther Rare Books AG, Basel

The Getty Museum has acquired a rare Ottonian (11th-century German) manuscript and an oil-on-copper painting by Annibale Carracci.

The little-known manuscript is being called the Irmengard Codex after its patron, Irmengard of Nellenburg, niece to Ottonian Emperor Henry II. It contains 15 full-page miniatures in a sweet-tart pastel palette. 

The book's text is dated to 1030–1050. The illuminations were commissioned by Irmengard sometime after the 1053 battlefield death of her husband, Werner. Miniatures from this period are extremely rare. The Ludwig collection, acquired in 1983 as the foundation of the Getty's manuscript holdings, contained three Ottonian manuscripts. Another was added in 1985. Nothing comparable has appeared on the market since. The Codex was purchased from Dr. Guenther Rare Books, Basel. 

Annibale Carracci, Virgin and Child with St. Lucy, St. Dominic, and St. Louis of France, about 1596–1609. Getty Museum

Annibale Carracci's Virgin and Child with St. Lucy, St. Dominic, and St. Louis of France combines a devotional image with a landscape picture-in-picture at upper right. Annibale had created pure landscape paintings as early as about 1590. The Getty painting also has still life elements of books, a basket, and Lucy's eyes on a platter. It's a lot to pack onto a copper plate just over 17 by 13 inches.

In the Bute collection for two centuries, the Virgin and Child was later on loan to the Philadelphia Museum of Art from Nelson and Leona Shanks. It becomes the only painting by Annibale at any Los Angeles institution. The Getty has a large canvas by Annibale's older cousin Ludovico Carracci and a remarkable Head of a Woman, an oil-on-paper sketch by Annibale, that was acquired in 2019.

The Carracci is to go on view in April at the Getty Center. An exhibition built around the Irmengard Codex is planned for fall 2023.

Framed image, from Davide Gasparotto's Instagram account

Landscape detail

More images from the Irmengard Codex—

The Miracle of Mount Gargano
In the now-obscure legend of Mount Gargano, a herdsman tried to frighten a bull by shooting an arrow at it. The arrow miraculously boomeranged, hitting the herdsman himself. 
Saint Luke
The manuscript's animals are exceptional throughout, clutching a book in the portrait of Luke (all four Evangelists and their animal avatars get miniatures), and kibitzing cartoonishly in a Nativity.
The Nativity
The Pentecost has affinities to Hilma af Klint's mystic abstractions, George Tooker's lonely crowds, and perhaps even to Neo-Nazi pinstriper Von Dutch (the winged eyeball/orb).

Irmengard and her Husband Werner and Christ and Saint Michael
One of the most unusual features of the Codex is a portrait of the female donor with deceased husband Werner. The couple occupy the left half of a two-page spread, presenting the book (this book) to Christ and Saint Michael. 

All the Getty departments have been trying to add works by women artists. Anonymous may be a woman, but in the medieval manuscript field, it's easier to identify works commissioned by women.


Oooo! The Annibale Carracci copper is stunning. Lucy's eyes on that platter are ghastly. The background landscape is marvelous. The two figures on the road are fugitive, but such things do happen. A coup for LA.
Anonymous said…
Can’t help but feel the recent acquistions haven’t been up to the Getty’s usual standards, specifically in terms of paintings. The Carracci painting doesn’t do anything for me, neither does the Lavinia Fontana
Please give the Carracci a chance. Spend 5 minutes looking at it.
Annibale Carracci and his school are seminal players at the birth of the Italian Baroque period, around 1580 CE.
Getty is really lucky to have this picture.
Separately, here's a take on Carracci written by Keith Christiansen, emeritus chair of the Department of European Paintings at the Met, from October, 2003. Note the accession numbers in the text refer to works in the Met collection:

Annibale Carracci (1560–1609) was the most admired painter of his time and the vital force in the creation of Baroque style. Together with his cousin Ludovico (1555–1619) and his older brother Agostino (1557–1602)—each an outstanding artist—Annibale set out to transform Italian painting. The Carracci rejected the artificiality of Mannerist painting, championing a return to nature coupled with the study of the great northern Italian painters of the Renaissance, especially Correggio, Titian, and Veronese.

During the 1580s, the Carracci were painting the most radical and innovative pictures in Europe. Annibale not only drew from nature, he created a new, broken brushwork to capture movement and the effects of light on form. His Two Children Teasing a Cat (ca. 1590; 1994.142) marks a new chapter in the history of genre painting. In Ludovico’s early and still unresolved Lamentation (ca. 1582; 2000.68), the figure of Christ—clearly studied from a posed model in the studio—gives the picture a jarring immediacy and actuality. The revolutionary potential of this new kind of painting would be taken up over a decade later by Caravaggio, who must have seen the Carraccis’ work while traveling from Milan to Rome in 1592.

The Carracci saw themselves as heir to a great artistic tradition, and they consciously situated themselves within the history of northern Italian painting. Annibale and Agostino visited Parma and Venice to study the work of Correggio, Titian, Tintoretto, and Veronese. Their altarpieces and secular fresco cycles in Bologna reasserted a northern Italian emphasis on color, light, and the study of nature, but with a new focus on emotive communication. Their success led to Annibale being invited to Rome to work for the powerful Farnese family (1595). Ludovico remained in Bologna to direct the academy they founded. Through the next generation of painters—Francesco Albani, Domenichino, Guido Reni, Giovanni Lanfranco, and Guercino—Bolognese painting became the dominant force in seventeenth-century art.

In Rome, Annibale’s painting was transformed through his first-hand encounter with classical antiquity and the art of Michelangelo and Raphael. Individual scenes of ancient mythology are surrounded by an elaborate illusionistic framework with feigned statues, in front of which sit muscular nude figures seemingly lit from the actual windows (Galleria Farnese ceiling). The corners are opened to painted views of the sky. When unveiled in 1600, the ceiling was instantly acclaimed as the equal of any work in the past. In combining northern Italian naturalism with the idealism of Roman painting, Annibale created the basis of Baroque art. His only challenger in Rome was Caravaggio, whose relation with the past was combative rather than assimilative. Moreover, Caravaggio’s art was unsuited to large compositions and fresco cycles, and by 1630 Caravaggesque painting was in decline while Annibale’s art was being studied by a new generation of artists. Rubens, Poussin, and Bernini were deeply indebted to him.
Anonymous said…
Comment 2 - I find it so interesting, because I actually think the opposite. I don’t know how many great Carracci are out there, but this is as good and rare as anything at TEFAF. The Getty seems focused on masterpieces as stated in this recent interview: Last year they bought the best Callibotte available. They don’t infinite money, the acquisition is in all departments and of A or A+ quality - they simply can’t buy everything on the Paul Allan sale. $100 million? Better save that kind of money for a Caravaggio or rediscovered Vermeer.
Anonymous said…
I wish they bought at least one painting from the Paul Allen sale. Such a missed opportunity
Anonymous said…
Ongoing issues with things like the banking and investing community make me think of how much the Getty Foundation lost in value around 2008-2009. Same thing with the endowment funds of other non-profits too.

Better buckle up, folks, we may be in for a bumpy ride. But an ideal time for another cultural entity, LACMA, to be pursuing its massive reconfiguration. With the hint that supposedly may include satellite exhibit spaces in other parts of LA County too. Or two for the price of one!
Anonymous said…
The Getty has an endowment of 7 billion. They need to stop stalling and actually buy some paintings that people want to see instead of this crap.
mughound said…
I posted the second comment. I will say seeing it now in context in the small gold frame and imagining its tiny size on copper, it is more impressive than I initially thought, having mistaken this as a larger painting on canvas.
Re your words, above, that is "...instead of this crap.":
I was with you until your final four words.
Anyone with any knowledge whatsoever of Western art wouldn't classify the Irmengard Codex or Annibale's "Virgin and Child with St. Lucy, St. Dominic, and St. Louis of France" as anything other than masterpieces.
Anonymous said…
^^^If everything is special, then nothing is.

From early in his career, it's a small, devotional picture of a common subject matter.

When it was shown at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, it was not identified as a masterpiece. It was described as the kind of work that one might find in a collector's cabinet of the time. That suggests it was more of a curiosity than a painting with higher aesthetic aspirations.

--- J. Garcin
No one said it was his greatest masterpiece.
The likes of the Farnese Ceiling, for example, is otherwise preoccupied in Rome.
The comment was in reply to some know-nothing calling the Getty's new copper "crap."
Yes, LA is late to the Carracci party, but this picture will be a lovely, quite nice -- and yes, special-- orientation to one of the greatest masters of the Baroque.
Sorry if it doesn't pass the kitchen magnet test. Ugh! Where do they find these people?

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