Letter To The Church Of Sardis
Beatus of Liébana
Las Huelgas Apocalypse
Purchased by Pierpont Morgan, 1910
And to the Angel of the Church of Sardis write: Thus says he who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars: I know your works, that you have a name which is alive, but you are dead. Be vigilant, and confirm the things that remain, lest they soon die. Keep in mind the way that you have received and heard, and then observe it and repent. But if you will not be vigilant, I will come to you like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come to you. He that prevails will be clothed in white vestments. And I will not delete his name from the Book of Life. And I will confess his name in the presence of my Father and in the presence of his angels. (Rev. 3:1–5)
John gestures to the angel, who stands on a pediment and holds a cross staff. Compared to the previous miniature (fol. 40), the church structure and its contents are much more elaborate. The altar holds a gold chalice and cross and is lit by a hanging silver lamp. The tree to the right occurs in other Church miniatures in other manuscripts.
The Apocalypse, or Book of Revelation, is not only the last Book of the New Testament, but its most difficult, puzzling, and terrifying. It provided challenges to medieval illustrators and was the source for a number of popular images, such as Christ in Majesty, the Adoration of the Lamb, and the Madonna of the Apocalypse and contributed to the widespread use of the Evangelists' symbols.
Selected images from Apocalypse Then: Medieval Illuminations from the Morgan, an exhibition held at the Morgan are presented here. The exhibition celebrates the completion of a facsimile of the Morgan's Las Huelgas Apocalypse—the latest dated (1220) and largest surviving manuscript of a Spanish tradition of illuminated commentaries on the Apocalypse by the monk Beatus of Liébana. The series of manuscripts constitutes Spain's most important contribution to medieval manuscript illumination.
The Las Huelgas Apocalypse contains three sections: the prefatory cycle, the Apocalypse, and the Book of Daniel.
In addition to forty-nine images from the Las Huelgas Apocalypse, six images from other manuscripts in the Morgan's collections, including the earliest Beatus painted by Maius and one by the Master of the Berry Apocalypse, are in this presentation.