Sixth Trumpet: The Army Of Horsemen Over Lion-Headed Horses
Beatus of Liébana
Las Huelgas Apocalypse
Purchased by Pierpont Morgan, 1910
And I saw the horses in the vision. And the horsemen had breastplates of fire, hyacinth, and sulfur. And the heads of the horses were like the heads of lions. And from their mouths came fire, smoke, and sulfur. And one-third part of men was slain by these three afflictions. For the power of these horses is in their mouths and tails. Their tails resemble serpents, and it is the heads that cause harm. And the men who were not slain by these afflictions did not repent from the works of their hands, from worshiping demons or idols, or from their murders, drugs, fornications, and thefts. (Rev. 9:17–21)
This miniature supplies the horsemen with turbans, which usually designate Muslims or Moors. For Beatus, however, the horsemen represent false Christians and demon spirits. The naked corpses at bottom represent the one-third of humanity slain.
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.