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Masterpieces in miniature at the Getty

November 16, 2008 |  6:30 am

'Empress Faustina is Beheaded' You must look closely, very closely, to see what's going on in the miniatures in "The Belles Heures of the Duke of Berry," an exhibition of illuminated manuscripts opening Tuesday at the J. Paul Getty Museum. And that's exactly what you want to do because the artistry is so fine, the details so exquisitely rendered.

But some of the images in the early 15th-century prayer book are packed with dark drama. In this one, "Empress Faustina Is Beheaded," a golden-haired lady who has just converted to Christianity has lost her crown and is about to lose a lot more. Blindfolded, she bows her head and awaits the sword that's about to fall on her neck.

Like all the "Belles Heures" pages on view at the Getty through Feb. 8, the scene is the work of three young brothers, Paul, Herman and Jean de Limbourg, the leading illuminators of their day.

Read more about the exhibit here, and see a photo gallery of the works.

-- Suzanne Muchnic

Photo credit: J. Paul Getty Museum