God Sends The Angel With The Book To John
Beatus of Liébana
Las Huelgas Apocalypse
Purchased by Pierpont Morgan, 1910
The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave to him, in order to make known to his servants the things which must soon occur, and which he signified by sending his angel to his servant John; he has offered testimony to the Word of God, and whatever he sawis the testimony of Jesus Christ. Blessed is he who reads or hears the words of this prophecy, and who keeps the things that have been written in it. For the time is near. (Rev. 1:1–3)
The miniature is unusual because of its small size; a large one generally opens the Apocalypse text. An enthroned God offers a blessing while, below, the Book of Revelation is delivered to John, along with a handshake.
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.