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.
The World Map
This double-page world map is one of the manuscript's most intriguing illustrations. It is not called for by the Apocalypse text itself but is alluded to by Beatus, who writes about the various regions the twelve apostles were to evangelize (Peter, for example, went to Rome, Andrew to Acaya, Thomas to India, James to Spain, and John to Asia). The two vertical green areas on either side of the gutter represent the Mediterranean Sea (the yellow rectangles are islands, such as Crete and Corsica). Europe is at the bottom left. In Spain, only Andalusia (Betica), Asturias, and Saragossa (Cesaraugusta) are listed. Africa is at the bottom right page, while Asia fills the top half of both pages. Below Adam and Eve in paradise are Jerusalem and Mt. Sinai, and lower down are Judea and Babylonia.