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.
Seven Deadly Sins as the Seven Plagues
The seven plagues, following the commentary by Berengaudus (fl. 840–92), are interpreted as the Seven Deadly Sins, which some believed would take over the world as the end neared. Envy places a crown on Pride, Anger holds a sword, Avarice has a purse, and Gluttony drinks. Sloth is recumbent and Lust combs his hair. The manuscript was in the library of Jean, duc de Berry, the great French bibliophile who commissioned the Très Riches Heures. The anonymous artist responsible for its 85 miniatures was named the Master of the Berry Apocalypse after this book.
Apocalypse, with the commentary of Berengaudus, in French. France, Paris, ca. 1415, by the Master of the Berry Apocalypse.