Christ In Majesty
Beatus of Liébana
Las Huelgas Apocalypse
Purchased by Pierpont Morgan, 1910
At the Second Coming, Christ will arrive in all his glory, seated on a throne. Here, with an imperial gesture, the returning Savior holds a book inscribed Ego sum alpha et omega (I am the Alpha and Omega). Angels support Christ's mandorla; in the four corners, anthropomorphic representations of the evangelists sit at desks. Each has a scroll with his name. The faces on the human bodies are the four living creatures of the Apocalypse that Jerome connected with the evangelists: the man represents Matthew; the eagle, John; the ox, Luke; and the lion, Mark.
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.