Deal allows Getty museum to keep Armenian church papers

AP News
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Posted: Sep 21, 2015 8:09 PM

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Eight beautifully illustrated pages from a 13th century Armenian manuscript will remain at the J. Paul Getty Museum under a deal announced Monday that resolves a dispute over whether the museum or the Armenian Apostolic Church was the papers' rightful owner.

Under terms of the deal, the Getty acknowledges that the Canon Tables, once a part of the larger Zeyt'un Gospels, belonged to the church.

At the same time, the Armenian Apostolic Church of America says it will donate the papers to the Getty, which the church praised for safeguarding the papers during the 21 years they have been in the museum's possession.

An Armenian church official said it was particularly gratifying that the deal came on the 100th anniversary of the Armenian genocide.

"I want to thank the Getty for joining in a solution that recognizes the historical suffering of the Armenian people and that will also allow this Armenian treasure to remain in the museum which has cared for it and made it available to the Armenian and larger community in Los Angeles," said Lee Crawford Boyd, representing the western prelacy of the Armenian Apostolic Church of America.

The papers represent the earliest signed work of T'oros Roslin, the most accomplished Armenian illuminator and scribe of the 13th century. They were created in 1256 for Constantine I.

The Getty had maintained it purchased the papers legally from the descendants of a person who had pulled them from the larger manuscript and carried them to safety while fleeing the Armenian genocide.

The church had argued that the museum should have known the sellers were not the rightful owners.

"That the pages were saved from destruction and conserved in a museum all these years means that these irreplaceable representations of Armenia's rich artistic heritage have been and will be preserved for future generations," Timothy Potts, the museum's director, said Monday.