The Putrefaction of the Flesh of the Dying Emperor Galerius

Boucicaut Masterabout 1413–1415

The J. Paul Getty Museum

The J. Paul Getty Museum
Los Angeles, United States

Two servants of the Roman emperor Galerius cover their mouths from the stench of his rotting flesh. The emperor lies on his deathbed, suffering from a horrendous malady that reportedly caused his entrails to decay inside his body and worms to come out of his mouth, ears, and nose. For people in the Middle Ages, illness was often seen as the result of sin, and Galerius's sickness was interpreted as his punishment for persecuting Christians. According to Boccaccio, Galerius was not punished by Jupiter, whom he falsely honored and disloyally served in Rome, but rather by Jesus, the celestial king born of a virgin, who is Lord of heaven and earth


  • Title: The Putrefaction of the Flesh of the Dying Emperor Galerius
  • Creator: Boucicaut Master
  • Date Created: about 1413–1415
  • Location Created: Paris, France
  • Physical Dimensions: Leaf: 42 × 29.6 cm (16 9/16 × 11 5/8 in.)
  • Type: Folio
  • External Link: Find out more about this object on the Museum website.
  • Medium: Tempera colors, gold leaf, gold paint, and ink on parchment
  • Terms of Use: Open Content
  • Number: 96.MR.17.258
  • Culture: French
  • Credit Line: The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, Ms. 63, fol. 258
  • Creator Display Name: Boucicaut Master or workshop (French, active about 1390 - 1430)
  • Classification: Manuscripts (Documents)

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