Beatus of Liébana - Valcavado Codex

Beatus of Liébana - Valcavado Codex – Testimonio Compañía Editorial – 433 – Biblioteca Histórica de Santa Cruz - Universidad de Valladolid (Valladolid, Spain)

Monastery of Santa Maria in Valcavado (Spain) — June 8 to September 8, 970

Fascinating Mozarabic book art preserved in the monastery of Valcavado until the 16th century: one of the best preserved Beatus manuscripts and "one of the most impressive Spanish works of art" of the High Middle Ages

  1. This Beatus codex is considered to be “one of the most impressive works of art from Spain”

  2. The patron, artists, and even the exact dates of the manuscript's production are recorded

  3. Stored in Valcavado until the 16th century, it is one of the best-preserved Beatus specimens

Beatus of Liébana - Valcavado Codex

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  1. Description
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Description
Beatus of Liébana - Valcavado Codex

The Valcavado Beatus, also known as the Valladolid Beatus, is considered to be “one of the most impressive works of art from Spain”. Originating from the year 970, the manuscript is an impressive codex from the Monastery of Santa Maria in Valcavado, where it resurfaced during the 17th century. It is counted among the most important Spanish works of art and illustrates the famous commentary on the Book of Revelation by Beatus of Liébana with gorgeous miniatures, some of them spanning a double page, which have a distinct and unusual color palette. With that, the Valcavado Beatus stands firmly in the traditions of marvelous, large-format, richly illustrated Beatus Manuscripts of the 10th century. Also worthy of note in this marvelous specimen of the medieval Beatus tradition of northern Spain are the numerous pieces of evidence pointing to its patron, the artist who created it, and even the exact time of its creation.

Beatus of Liébana - Valcavado Codex

The Valcavoda Beatus, also known as the Valladolid Beatus, is considered to be “one of the most impressive works of art from Spain”. Originating from the year 970, the manuscript is an impressive work from the Monastery of Santa Maria in Valcavado. The famous commentary on the Book of Revelation by Beatus of Liébana is illustrated in gorgeous pictures. With that, the Valcavoda Beatus stands firmly in the traditions of marvelous, large-format, richly illustrated Beatus Manuscripts of the 10th century. Also worthy of note in this marvelous specimen of the medieval Beatus tradition of northern Spain are the numerous pieces of evidence pointing to its patron, the artist who created it, and even the exact time of its creation.

Straight through Spain

The Beatus of Liébana - Valcavado Codex is stored today in the collection of the historic library of the University of Valladolid, which is why it is also known as the Valladolid Beatus. The term Valcavado Codex comes from its place of origin, the Monastery of Santa Maria in Valcavado in northern Spain. It was stored in the church there until the 16th century. The manuscript came to Madrid through a secretary of Philip II. The Valcavoda Beatus finally resurfaced in Valladolid in the 17th century. There it is stored to this day, over 1,000 years after its creation, and counts among the most important Spanish works of art!

An Impressive Masterwork

An interesting indication of the origins of the Beatus is found on the third page of the manuscript. It is recorded there that the work on the manuscript lasted exactly from June 8th to Spetember 8th, 970. The work was commissioned by Abbot Sempronius of Santa Maria in Valcavado. A certain Obeco was the miniaturist and scribe who executed the work. The manuscript’s 460 pages are adorned with 97 magnificent miniatures. These sometimes double-paged depictions are characterized by an impressive style, which manifests itself in the gorgeous, large almond eyes of the figure, for example. The numerous marginal notes and references in the text, which either come from the scribe himself or were added later, are remarkable. Altogether, the codex, which was stored at is place of origin until the 16th century, is in extremely good condition.

The Famous Apocalypse Commentary

The foundation of this splendid piece of illumination is the magnum opus of Beatus of Liébana (d. 798): the commentary on the Book of Revelation in twelve books. This groundbreaking work, originating from shortly before 800, offered illuminators and miniaturists the opportunity to test innovative visual inventions away from the common iconography of biblical tales. The biblical text of John’s revelation about the end of the world, with its numerous fantastical, mysterious, and hard to interpret symbolic pictures has not lost any of its fascination today. Nonetheless it needed a detailed explanation, which Beatus of Liébana delivered with his commentary. The 30+ known manuscripts of this commentary, all of them masterpieces of northern Spanish illumination in the Middle Ages, bear witness to the fact that the Apocalypse inspired artists to true flights of fancy. The Valcavado Codex is one of these magnificent attestations of such fantastic art!

Codicology

Alternative Titles
Beatus von Liébana - Codex Valcavado
Valladolid Beatus
Beato Valcavado
Valcavado Beatus
Size / Format
460 pages / 35.5 × 24.5 cm
Origin
Spain
Date
June 8 to September 8, 970
Style
Language
Illustrations
97 miniatures, some on two pages and a large number on whole pages
Patron
Abbot Sempronius
Artist / School
Previous Owners
St. Ambrose College

Available facsimile editions:
Beatus of Liébana - Valcavado Codex – Testimonio Compañía Editorial – 433 – Biblioteca Histórica de Santa Cruz - Universidad de Valladolid (Valladolid, Spain)
Testimonio Compañía Editorial – Madrid, 2000
Limited Edition: 980 copies
Detail Picture

Beatus of Liébana - Valcavado Codex

The Four Beasts of Daniel

Daniel was a visionary among the young Hebrews taken into the Babylonian Captivity. Many of his dreams concerned the “four kingdoms” – a prophecy of four empires that would rule over the earth before the Kingdom of God was established. In one of these dreams, he sees four beasts: a lion with eagle’s wings, a bear with three ribs in its teeth, a leopard with four bird’s wings, and a fourth beast unlike the others with iron teeth and ten horns, one with the face of a man speaking pompous words.

Beatus of Liébana - Valcavado Codex – Testimonio Compañía Editorial – 433 – Biblioteca Histórica de Santa Cruz - Universidad de Valladolid (Valladolid, Spain)
Single Page

Beatus of Liébana - Valcavado Codex

Siege of Jerusalem

St. John’s Revelation is firmly rooted in the prophetic and apocalyptic texts of the Old Testament, which often revolved around Jerusalem’s destruction or the threat thereof. This scene is called the Siege of Jerusalem, the final battle in the Book of Revelation when Satan is finally defeated.

The Mozarabic influence in the miniature is immediately recognizable in the city’s gate, which takes the form of a Moorish- or horseshoe arch. Scenes of carnage surround the architecture and two seated figures, one to the left of the gate is lamenting while the other, holding a spear, is identified as a general. The missing lower-left corner begs the question, was it cut out by censors in a later century, or did someone simply need to write a note?

Beatus of Liébana - Valcavado Codex – Testimonio Compañía Editorial – 433 – Biblioteca Histórica de Santa Cruz - Universidad de Valladolid (Valladolid, Spain)
Facsimile Editions

#1 Beato de Valcavado

Publisher: Testimonio Compañía Editorial – Madrid, 2000
Limited Edition: 980 copies
Binding: Hand-stitched brown goatskin binding imprinted with a bird motif inspired by the work that is also found on the silver clasps.
Commentary: 1 volume by José Fernández Flórez, Mauricio Herrero Jiménez, José Manuel Ruiz Ascencio, Clementina Julia Ara Gil, Pilar Rodriguez Marín, and Marta Herreo de la Fuente
Language: Spanish
1 volume: Exact reproduction of the original document (extent, color and size) 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€)
Edition available
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