Getty Museum announces Heaven, Hell, and Dying Well. Images of Death in the Middle Ages

The Getty Museum presents Heaven, Hell, and Dying Well. Images of Death in the Middle Ages, an exhibition on view on display May 29–August 12, 2012, at the J. Paul Getty Museum, Getty Center.

Lazarus’s Soul Carried to Abraham (DETAIL), about 1510‐1520. Master of James IV of Scotland (Flemish, before 1465‐about 1541). Tempera colors, gold, and ink on parchment. The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, Ms. Ludwig IX 18, fol. 22.

The Middle Ages produced many of the most fantastical and arresting images of death and the afterlife. Medieval depictions of cruel demons, valiant angels, and gruesome deaths continue to inform our visual understanding of the horrors of hell and the rewards of heaven. Drawing primarily from the Getty Museum’s permanent collection and featuring several new acquisitions, Heaven, Hell, and Dying Well: Images of Death in the Middle Ages, features a collection of remarkable imagery from illuminated manuscripts, stained glass, printed books, and paintings.

“Death was everywhere in medieval culture, and the unshakable belief in an afterlife motivated much of the art we see from this period,” said Martin Schwarz, curator of the exhibition. “The centrality of death played out in the popular and religious imagination in many ways, from poetry to literature to the uplifting and terrifying images seen in the exhibition.”

The exhibition features three sections that address the universal and inescapable fact of death: “The Art of Death”, “The Descent into Hell”, and “Damnation and Salvation”.

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