Getty Museum Returns Missing Illuminated Manuscript to Greece

(Unknown Artist), Saint Matthew, 1133 Tempera colors, gold leaf, gold paint, and ink on parchment Leaf: 22.1 x 18.1 cm (8 11/16 x 7 1/8 in.) photo credit: The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, Ms. Ludwig II 4, fol. 10v

Los Angeles’s J. Paul Getty Museum is returning a Byzantine illuminated manuscript of the New Testament that dates back to 12th-century Greece, reports AFA news.

The piece has been missing from the Monastery of Dionysiou for 50 years. Law enforcement was never contacted, so its disappearance was never publicized, and the manuscript was not documented in any stolen art databases. In 1983, it was acquired by the Getty as part of what the museum has described as a “large, well-documented” collection.

The scripture’s true provenance came to light  when the Getty turned to the Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Sports to conduct research on it. After learning that the manuscript had been illegally removed from the monastery, the Getty made the decision to give the work back of its own accord.

Currently on display at the Getty as part of “Heaven and Earth: Byzantine Illumination at the Cultural Crossroad,” the New Testament will begin its journey back to Greece once the exhibition closes on June 22.


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