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.
Last Judgment (Rev.: 20:11–15)
Christ the Judge sits at the top in a mandorla supported by two angels. Below, in three registers, are six pairs of seated saints (probably apostles), each pair with a saint standing behind. These bless the elect, represented by groups of nimbed saints. The registers at right contain the damned. The men at the top clasping hands are those damned together; below, men suffer individually; at bottom, the damned are tortured in a lake of fire with ovenlike walls. Maius tells us that he made this book so that the "wise may fear the coming of the future judgment of the world's end." The use of bands of color and miniatures extending over two pages represent Maius's contribution to the Beatus tradition.
These pages are from one of the earliest surviving illuminated manuscripts in the Spanish tradition. Written and illuminated by Maius (ca. 945) in the famous tower scriptorium of the monastery of San Salvador de Tabara, it is the most important Spanish illuminated manuscript in the United States.