Vision Of God Enthroned
Beatus of Liébana
Las Huelgas Apocalypse
Purchased by Pierpont Morgan, 1910
After these things, I saw a door was opened in heaven, and the voice that I heard speaking with me first was like a trumpet, saying: "Ascend to here, and I will reveal to you what must occur after these things." And immediately I was in the spirit. And behold, a throne had been placed in heaven, and there was One sitting upon the throne similar in appearance to a stone of jasper and sardius. And there was an iridescence surrounding the throne, in aspect similar to an emerald. And surrounding the throne were twenty-four smaller thrones. And upon the thrones, twenty-four elders were sitting, clothed all around in white vestments, and on their heads were gold crowns. And from the throne, lightnings and voices and thunders went forth. And there were seven burning lamps before the throne, which are the seven spirits of God. (Rev. 4:1–5)
At the lower left, a trancelike John suggests that he is "in the spirit." The "One sitting upon the throne" is Christ. The red rays emanating from Christ, wavy blue and orange clouds, and jutting orange spears suggest the iridescence of the emerald.
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.