The Flood and Noah's Ark: a Beatus manuscript with epic scenes in the Romanesque-Byzantine style

Beatus of Liébana - Manchester Codex

12th century

Beatus of Liébana - Manchester Codex

Beatus of Liébana - Manchester Codex

— 12th century

  1. This Beatus manuscript has 123 full-page miniatures in a hybrid Romanesque/Byzantine style

  2. The large-format codex's decoration consists of bright, primary colors, gold, and silver

  3. The manuscript is distinguished by epic scenes, e.g. of the Flood and Noah's Arc

Beatus of Liébana - Manchester Codex

Alternative Titles:
  • Beato de Liébana: Códice de Manchester
  • Manchester Beatus
  • Beatus de Liébana: Codex de Manchester
Beatus of Liébana - Manchester Codex – Ms. Lat. 8 – John Rylands Library (Manchester, United Kingdom)
Beatus of Liébana - Manchester Codex – Ms. Lat. 8 – John Rylands Library (Manchester, United Kingdom)
Beatus of Liébana - Manchester Codex – Ms. Lat. 8 – John Rylands Library (Manchester, United Kingdom)
Beatus of Liébana - Manchester Codex – Ms. Lat. 8 – John Rylands Library (Manchester, United Kingdom)
Beatus of Liébana - Manchester Codex – Ms. Lat. 8 – John Rylands Library (Manchester, United Kingdom)
Beatus of Liébana - Manchester Codex – Ms. Lat. 8 – John Rylands Library (Manchester, United Kingdom)
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  1. Short Description
  2. Codicology

Short Description

Originating somewhere between 1170 and 1180, the Manchester Codex of Beatus of Liébana belongs to the late-Romanesque manuscript art of Saint Beatus. In 123 whole-page miniatures, the Book of Revelation and the famous Apocalypse Commentary by the Asturian monk Beatus of Liébana is wonderfully illustrated. Grandiose, magnificently colored miniatures decorate the 510-page codex, which was finely crafted in North-Spain in the tradition of Beatus-manuscripts. The impressive and often gruesome images of the Apocalypse are all illustrated for the enjoyment of the eye of the beholder in this way, e.g. the chasm of Hell or the Fall of Babylon.

Beatus of Liébana – Manchester Codex

Originating somewhere between 1170 and 1180, the Manchester Codex of Beatus of Liébana belongs to the late-Romanesque manuscript art of Saint Beatus. In 123 whole-page miniatures, the Book of Revelation and the famous Apocalypse Commentary by the Asturian monk Beatus of Liébana is wonderfully illustrated. Grandiose, magnificently colored miniatures decorate the 510-page codex, which was finely crafted in North-Spain in the tradition of Beatus-manuscripts. The impressive and often gruesome images of the Apocalypse are all illustrated for the enjoyment of the eye of the beholder in this way, e.g. the chasm of Hell or the Fall of Babylon.

The Masterpiece of Beatus of Liébana

The author of the most well-known and widely distributed apocalypse commentary of the Middle Ages was Beatus of Liébana, a monk and theologian from a monastery in the Kingdom of Asturias in modern Northern Spain. He lived in the 8th Century and died ca. 798. Around the year 800, many feared that the end of the world was nearing during this year of change; in this context this masterpiece by Beatus, a commentary on the Apocalypse of John, also known as the Book of Revelation, appeared. The allegorical and symbolic pictures of the end of the world were thus made easier to understand. In his work, Beatus included staggered sections from different authors, and even cites many of his sources in the text. The text concerning the Apocalypse is divided into 66 sections, which is immediately followed by a so-called explanatio, a commentary from Beatus about the verses. This wealth of narrative imagery is reflected through the miniatures as well. Beatus manuscripts generally contained more than 100 illustrations within the individual sections, the Manchester Codex has about 123.

A Meaningful Testimonial to North-Spanish Art

Wonderful, impressive images decorate the extensive 45 x 31.5 cm codex. Next to the bright colors – wherein the primary colors of red, blue, green, and yellow dominate – the artful design of the miniatures is enhanced with gold and silver. Most whole-page miniatures are also surrounded by a frame. A special feature of the pictures is that some of the figures overlap the boundaries and sprawl across the pages. Stylistically, the pictures appear almost Byzantine, but are actually more comparable to North-Spanish art ca. 1170-1180. The relevant research has come to the consensus that the work enjoyed the input from two artists, who were presumably in Castile, but that the work was definitely finished in Northern Spain.

An Unbelievable Wealth of Pictures

The individual miniatures delight with their creative style of text illustration. Thus, the depictions of Noah’s Arc display a wonderful cross-section of the ship, which appears to have been built like a house. In countless brightly-designed areas, pairs of animals are housed. The dove brings a branch from a green palm tree to the right of the Arc to show Noah that the flood is indeed over. The monochrome animal depictions in the colorful cubes are so creatively crafted that one can hardly believe it. Furthermore, the Manchester Beatus contains a wonderful depiction of a world map, which is illustrated next to Beatus’ text, in which the twelve Apostles spread the Gospel. Another miniature page with a representation of Babylon surrounded by snakes is a great example of the décor. It shows the city as a symmetrical, architectural setting, which is surrounded by winding snakes as an elaborate frame. The artists brought all their skills to fruition and created a special specimen of the Beatus manuscripts, which were so popular in Northern Spain during the Early- and High Middle Ages. Like many of the illustrated manuscripts of the Apocalypse commentary of Beatus von Liébana, the Manchester Codex served as a luxury object of personal prayer. Even today, the beholder can lose himself in the grandiose flood of images.

Codicology

Alternative Titles
Beato de Liébana: Códice de Manchester
Manchester Beatus
Beatus de Liébana: Codex de Manchester
Size / Format
510 pages / 45.0 x 31.5 cm
Date
12th century
Language
Illustrations
123 beautiful full-page miniatures illuminated in gold and silver
Artist / School
Previous Owners

1 available facsimile edition(s) of „Beatus of Liébana - Manchester Codex“

Beato de Liébana: Códice de Manchester
Beatus of Liébana - Manchester Codex – Ms. Lat. 8 – John Rylands Library (Manchester, United Kingdom)
Beatus of Liébana - Manchester Codex – Ms. Lat. 8 – John Rylands Library (Manchester, United Kingdom)
Beatus of Liébana - Manchester Codex – Ms. Lat. 8 – John Rylands Library (Manchester, United Kingdom)
Beatus of Liébana - Manchester Codex – Ms. Lat. 8 – John Rylands Library (Manchester, United Kingdom)
Beatus of Liébana - Manchester Codex – Ms. Lat. 8 – John Rylands Library (Manchester, United Kingdom)
Beatus of Liébana - Manchester Codex – Ms. Lat. 8 – John Rylands Library (Manchester, United Kingdom)
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Beato de Liébana: Códice de Manchester

1 volume: Exact reproduction of the original document (extent, color and size)
Publisher
Patrimonio Ediciones – Valencia, 2001
Limited Edition
999 copies
Binding
Leather over wooden boards with bronze hinges and clasps
Commentary
1 volume (198 pages) by Peter K. Klein
Languages: Spanish, English
Price Category: €€€
Edition available
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