Beatus of Liébana - Geneva Codex

Beatus of Liébana - Geneva Codex Facsimile Edition

Probably Montecassino Abbey (Italy) — Late 11th and early 12th century

First rediscovered in Geneva in 2007: an Italian Beatus manuscript created in the famous Abbey of Montecassino

  1. This 11th century edition, the 27th known Beatus, was discovered in Geneva in 2007

  2. Believed to have originated from the scriptorium of the famous Montecassino Abbey

  3. The 65 magnificent miniatures of the manuscript represent a rare Italian specimen of the genre

Beatus of Liébana - Geneva Codex

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  1. Description
  2. Detail Picture
  3. Single Page
  4. Facsimile Editions (1)
Description
Beatus of Liébana - Geneva Codex

In 2007, there was a sensational story for enthusiasts of old books to report from Geneva: a previously unknown Beatus manuscript resurfaced. The co-called Geneva Codex is a richly-illustrated, 11th century manuscript originating from southern Italy of the important Apocalypse commentary by the 8th century Spanish Benedictine Monk Beatus of Liébana. This edition, the 27th known Beatus, features 65 splendid and magnificent miniatures, which vividly visualizes the fantastical tales of the Apocalypse.

Beatus of Liébana - Geneva Codex

In 2007, there was a sensational story for enthusiasts of old books to report from Genf: a previously unknown Beatus manuscript resurfaced. The co-called Geneva Codex is a richly-illustrated, 11th century manuscript originating from southern Italy of the important Apocalypse commentary by the 8th century Spanish Benedictine Monk Beatus of Liébana. This edition, the 27th known Beatus, puts forth 65 splendid and magnificent miniatures, which vividly visualizes the fantastical tales of the Apocalypse.

A Sensational Event

The Brothers of the Congregation of St. Francis of Sales applied to the Bibliothèque de Genève with a sensational piece in 2007. An 11th century Beatus manuscript was found in their collection. It was completely unknown to the field of research until then and appended the 26 works known up to that time with an additional masterpiece. When and in what manner the manuscript came into the possession of the Sales Brother of Geneva remains a mystery. Yet it can be ascertained that this one was made in Southern Italy in the 11th century. The scriptorium of the Montecassino Abbey is speculated to be a possible point of origination. As a result the Geneva Beatus represents a further particularity, the rest of the 26 codices of this type are principally from northern Spain.

An Important Apocalypse Commentary of the Middle Ages

In northern Spain, Asturias to be precise, is also where the story of the so-called Beatus manuscripts begins. There the composer of the most famous apocalypse commentaries of the Middle Ages resided as a monk in the Monastery of San Martin de Turieno. To this day, the influential theologian Beatus of Liébana is known above all for his primary work, the Apocalypse commentary in 12 books originating from 776. Therein Beatus compiled the set pieces of various authors. The text of the Apocalypse of John was divided in 66 sections, each of which would be explained with a commentary by Beatus, a so-called explanation. The allegoric and symbolic images of they are supposed to make the Apocalypse more easily understood. The “end of the world” was expected in the year 800, which is probably also what induced Beatus to write his famous Apocalypse commentary.

Delicate Miniatures and Harmonious Script

The wonderful, fanciful, and often also horrible tales by John about the end of the world were illustrated in vivid images in the Geneva Beatus. For the most part, these miniatures are without frames and are integrated directly into the pages of text. The miniaturist colored the filigree drawings with delicate tones and in doing so leant the illustrations an impressive liveliness. The miniatures were also adorned with gold in many places, lending the splendid aura to the whole manuscript on 245 pages. The Beatus text was written down by the practiced scribes in Beneventan script and Carolingian miniscule in an evenly measured typeface and completed the uniform and harmonious impression of the Italian Beatus, which is housed today in Geneva.

Codicology

Alternative Titles
Beato de Ginebra
Genfer Beatus
Size / Format
245 pages / 25.0 × 16.0 cm
Origin
Italy
Date
Late 11th and early 12th century
Style
Language
Script
Beneventan
Illustrations
65 miniatures, the majority with gold and inserted into the text unframed
Content
Commentary on the Book of Revelation by Beatus of Liébana
Artist / School
Previous Owners
Congregation of St. Francis de Sales
Notre-Dame d' Aulps' Abbey

Available facsimile editions:
Beatus of Liébana - Geneva Codex – ms. lat. 357 – Bibliothèque de Genève (Geneva, Switzerland) Facsimile Edition
Siloé, arte y bibliofilia – Burgos, 2011
Limited Edition: 898 copies
Detail Picture

Beatus of Liébana - Geneva Codex

The Seven Trumpets

When the Seventh Seal was broken (depicted in the upper left corner), there was silence in heaven for about half an hour before St. John saw seven angels appear before God. In this miniature depicting the events of Rev. 8:1-4, seven wingless angels dressed in brightly colored robes kneel with their trumpets in neatly assembled rows almost as though they were a military band. Another angel stands before the throne of God, which looks more like He is seated behind a desk, swinging a golden censer.

Beato de Ginebra
Single Page

Beatus of Liébana - Geneva Codex

The New Jerusalem

At first glance, this miniature looks like a chess board with the Lamb of God, an angel, and St. John, but it is actually a schematic diagram of the New Jerusalem as described in Rev. 21:9-21. The twelve circles are gates, three each for the east, north, west, and south sides of the city wall, each of which is accompanied by an angel labelled with one of the names of the twelve tribes of Israel.

Called the bride of the Lamb of God, the city is described as being laid out as a square equal in length, breadth, and height, but is depicted here as a rectangle, perhaps simply for the sake of filling the page. The angel accompanying St. John uses a gold reed to measure the city, which is made of various precious stones with giant pearls for gates.

Beato de Ginebra
Facsimile Editions

#1 Beato de Ginebra

Siloé, arte y bibliofilia – Burgos, 2011

Publisher: Siloé, arte y bibliofilia – Burgos, 2011
Limited Edition: 898 copies
Binding: Full leather
Commentary: 1 volume by Juan J. García Gil, Pablo Molinero Hernando
1 volume: This facsimile is not complete. The attached part Priscians Institutiones Grammaticae is not reproduced. Reproduction of the entire original document as detailed as possible (scope, format, colors). The binding may not correspond to the original or current document binding.
Price Category: €€€ (3,000€ - 7,000€)
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