John Receives The Book And The Rod And Measures The Temple
Beatus of Liébana
Las Huelgas Apocalypse
Purchased by Pierpont Morgan, 1910
And I saw another strong angel, descending from heaven, clothed with a cloud. And a rainbow was upon his head, and his face was like the sun, and his feet were like columns of fire. He held in his hand a small open book, stationed his right foot on the sea, and his left foot on the land. And the angel said: "Receive the book and consume it. And it shall cause bitterness in your stomach, but in your mouth it shall be sweet like honey." And a reedlike staff was given to me. And I was told: "Rise up and measure the temple of God, the worshipers, and the altar. But do not measure the atrium outside of the temple because it has been given over to the Gentiles. And they shall trample upon the Holy City for forty-two months. (Rev. 10:1–11:2)
The angel, "clothed" with a band of star-filled clouds, stands on a stream with fish extending to the bottom of the page. At the bottom John measures the gold altar and the group of worshipers on the right. The unconcerned group on the left refers to the Gentiles. The rubric at the top of the facing page (Incipit explanacio) marks the beginning of the commentary.
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.