Adoration Of The Statue And The Hebrews In The Furnace
Beatus of Liébana
Las Huelgas Apocalypse
Purchased by Pierpont Morgan, 1910
King Nebuchadnezzar made a statue of gold, sixty cubits high and six cubits wide, and set it up in the plain of Dura in the province of Babylon. Then King Nebuchadnezzar dedicated the statue, and a herald proclaimed that when the music was heard, all must fall down and adore the gold statue; those who did not would be cast into a burning furnace. But Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego [the names given to Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah by the king's master of the eunuchs] could not obey, saying that their God could rescue them from the oven of burning fire and free them from his hands. And the furnace was heated so excessively that those who cast them in were themselves killed by the flames. But the three men walked in the flames, praising God and blessing the Lord. And the angel of the Lord descended into the furnace; and he cast the flame of the fire out of the furnace. And Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah were freed. Nebuchadnezzar was amazed, saying, "Blessed is their God, who sent his angel and rescued his servants who believed in him." And they altered the king's verdict, so that they would not serve or adore any god except their God. (Dan. 3)
At the top Babylonians adore the statue that resembles the king below, who points to the angel driving out the fire. The three Hebrews, hands raised, sing their famous canticle of thanksgiving (Benedicite).
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.