‘All that Glitters: Life at the Renaissance Court’ at J Paul Getty Museum

The J Paul Getty Museum is hosting “All that Glitters: Life at the Renaissance Court,” an exhibition focussing on court culture of Renaissance Europe. The exhibition, held at the Getty Center is on view through December 2, 2018.

For rulers and members of the nobility, illuminated manuscripts, paintings, drawings, enamels, and textiles were central aspects of their political and cultural identities. This exhibition explores the splendor of the European court during the transition between “late medieval” and “Renaissance” (or “early modern”) Europe through a selection of works and objects – luxury textiles and clothing, a drawing, a hand-colored print, and glass from the palaces that complement lavishly illuminated manuscripts. Small prayer books, illuminated with elegant fabrics, precious metals, and glittering jewels that adorned the residences of Europe’s elite are also part of the exhibit.

“During this critical period, the court was often a place of leisure, entertainment, and display, where members of the aristocracy engaged in tournaments, hunting, feasting, and games such as chess,” explains Timothy Potts, director of the J. Paul Getty Museum. “The settings for these pursuits were designed to impress—sumptuous and spectacular displays of art and pageantry that reaffirmed their status and prestige. The manuscripts that recorded such courtly pastimes were themselves valued as luxury goods and much sought after by the nobility.”

“The adherence to chivalric code and the way it governed both belief and behavior at the Renaissance courts was established in the Middle Ages but emerged with renewed vigor during the late medieval period. A number of dazzling and complex objects including manuscripts and stained glass explore the display of heraldry at court, where rank and systems of social hierarchy were incredibly important. Objects produced for kings, queens, and courtiers enshrined ideals of chivalry, especially in the form of jousting that continued to guide official conduct into the sixteenth century,” the museum writes.

“The incredible material luxury of the objects in the exhibition shows how ostentatious life at court could be, but when you dig a little deeper, the same objects can also be evidence of how courtiers were expected to behave and how they built their social hierarchies and identities,” says Larisa Grollemond, assistant curator of manuscripts and curator of the exhibition.

Highlights of the exhibition an illuminated manuscript from the court of King Louis XIV at Versailles, where the splendor of European court life reached its apex in the seventeenth century.

The exhibition is on view through December 2, 2018, at J. Paul Getty Museum, 1200 Getty Center Dr, Los Angeles, CA 90049, USA.

For details, visit

Click on the slideshow for a sneak peek at the exhibition.


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