Evangelist Mark With Witness And Two Angels Holding His Gospel
Beatus of Liébana
Las Huelgas Apocalypse
Purchased by Pierpont Morgan, 1910
Maius, who illuminated the Morgan's tenth-century Beatus (exhibited in the center of the room), has been credited with the idea of adding prefatory miniatures to the Apocalypse commentary. The four double-page spreads with evangelist portraits may have been included to suggest that the Apocalypse had the same authority as the Gospels. Here, the images for Mark follow the same unusual scheme as for the other evangelists. Mark is standing on the left before a seated figure, either a witness or, as in some manuscripts, Christ. In the roundel at the top is a lion, Mark's symbol. On the opposite page, two angels hold Mark's Gospel. In the roundel above is an anthropomorphic lion, Mark's symbol; the artist seems to have changed his mind, adding a human body over the lion's.
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.