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 Vision of the Lamb
At the center of the composition is a cross-bearing Lamb, the symbol of Christ. The Lamb is surrounded at the four cardinal points by the living creatures, holding books. A century later these creatures were interpreted as the symbols of the four evangelists (the eagle is John; the lion, Mark; the man, Matthew; and the ox, Luke). Between the creatures are adoring ancients with four-stringed gitterns and vials. Four angels hold the outer border of twenty-four stars. The miniature is one of the finest by Maius, who both wrote and painted this book, a masterpiece of Mozarabic illumination and the earliest complete Spanish Apocalypse.
This page is 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.