Cambrai Apocalypse

Cambrai Apocalypse – Quaternio Verlag Luzern – Ms. B 386 – Médiathèque d’Agglomération de Cambrai (Cambrai, France)

Cambrai (France) — End of 9th century

Figures in classical robes and impressive architecture in 46 full-page miniatures: one of only four Carolingian Apocalypses that have survived to the present day

  1. Originating from Cambrai in the late-9th century, this is one of only four surviving Carolingian Apocalypses

  2. The 46 full-page miniatures are remarkably well-preserved and boast impressive architectural elements

  3. The figures are depicted in classical garb like togas and sandals and communicate through various gestures

Cambrai Apocalypse

Facsimile Copy Available!
Price Category: €€€
(3,000€ - 7,000€)
  1. Description
  2. Detail Picture
  3. Single Page
  4. Facsimile Editions (1)
Cambrai Apocalypse

The Cambrai Apocalypse impresses the beholder with its 46 astoundingly-well-preserved full-pages miniatures. Probably originating from Cambrai in northern France at the end of the 9th century, it is one of only four Carolingian Apocalypse manuscripts to survive. It distinctly stands out from among the rest because of its own distinct coloration and visual language. The painter managed to lend liveliness to the pictures with temple and city architecture which also makes it possible to pinpoint the location of the events. The stylistic connection of late antiquity and Frankish influences is interesting. Temple architecture with both Corinthian columns and palmettes serve as stages.

Cambrai Apocalypse

The Cambrai Apocalypse is counted among the oldest Apocalypse manuscripts in the world and is a true masterpiece. With 46 astonishingly-well-preserved full-page miniatures, it transplants the beholder into the exciting period of the Carolingian Renaissance of more than 1,100 years ago.

A Rarity in Book Art

Only four Carolingian Apocalypse manuscripts survive worldwide **. Probably originating from **Cambrai in northern France at the end of the 9th century, this specimen stands out from the rest through its coloration and imagery. It is furnished with countless narrative devices, which can only be sought for in vain in the others. Temple and urban architecture contributes a certain liveliness to the pictures and pinpoints the locations of the events. Additionally, stylized depictions of plants emphasize their closeness to reality and the effort with which they were made. The intensity of the colors is noteworthy, which still appear forceful after 1,100 years and have forfeited nothing of their luminosity.

Late Antiquity as a Source of Inspiration

The stylistic connection of late antiquity and Frankish influences, as can be recognized in the depictions, is particularly interesting. Temple architecture with both Corinthian columns and palmettes serve as stages. The figures perform before these, mostly dressed in tunics, togas, and sandals. The two-dimensional people communicate with one another through various hand gestures and can be connected with one another by the beholder. The composition always remains clear and harmonious, largely thanks to the frequently stripped composition. Additionally, each miniature is surrounded by richly patterned moldings, of which no two are alike.

Visions of the Last Days

Apocalypse manuscripts contain texts that thematize both the visions as well as prophecies of the coming end of the world. Most of these are connected with the presentation of the Last Judgement, as is described in the Gospel of Mathew. The Revelation of John originated in the first century after Christ and comprises the last book of the New Testament. The visions described therein have captivated people since then and has motivated artists above all to transmit the symbolic language in creative imagery. The surprising thing about Apocalypse manuscripts is that each is absolutely unique and implement the text in their own way. It for this reason above all that this is a beloved and fascinating collection area.


Alternative Titles
Apokalypse von Cambrai
L’Apocalypse de Cambrai
Apocalisse di Cambrai
Apocalipsis cum imaginibus depictis
Size / Format
96 pages / 31.0 × 23.0 cm
End of 9th century
Carolingian minuscule
46 captivating full-page miniatures in colorful frames; texts also framed and decorated with plain initials; a large demon on the flyleaf is a later addition from the 12th century
Apocalypse of St. John
Artist / School

Available facsimile editions:
Cambrai Apocalypse – Quaternio Verlag Luzern – Ms. B 386 – Médiathèque d’Agglomération de Cambrai (Cambrai, France)
Quaternio Verlag Luzern – Lucerne, 2017
Limited Edition: 680 copies
Detail Picture

Cambrai Apocalypse

The Woman and the Dragon

The Woman of the Apocalypse is one of the most prominent figures of John’s Revelation and is widely considered to be either the Virgin Mary or God’s people as a whole. She is shown holding her hands up with the sun and moon at her feet and crowned with twelve stars as the seven-headed dragon who wants to devour her child approaches. This event provokes the War in Heaven, whereby the child is saved and the Archangel Michael smites the Dragon, casting it down from heaven.

Cambrai Apocalypse – Quaternio Verlag Luzern – Ms. B 386 – Médiathèque d’Agglomération de Cambrai (Cambrai, France)
Single Page

Cambrai Apocalypse

The Seventh Trumpet

“And the seventh angel sounded, and there were great voices in Heaven, saying, ‘The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign for ever and ever!’ And the four and twenty elders, who sat before God on their seats, fell upon their faces and worshiped God, saying, ‘We give Thee thanks, O Lord God Almighty, who art, and wast, and art to come, because Thou hast taken to Thee Thy great power, and hast reigned.” (Rev 11:15–19)

This is a Carolingian imitation of Late Antique art. The 24 elders assemble before a classical open temple with Corinthian capitals, palmettes, and tiled roof with the Ark of the Covenant. Below, John addresses the seven churches of Asia Minor next to a highly stylized plant. All figures are beardless and dressed in togas.

Cambrai Apocalypse – Quaternio Verlag Luzern – Ms. B 386 – Médiathèque d’Agglomération de Cambrai (Cambrai, France)
Facsimile Editions

#1 Die Apokalypse von Cambrai

Quaternio Verlag Luzern – Lucerne, 2017

Publisher: Quaternio Verlag Luzern – Lucerne, 2017
Limited Edition: 680 copies
Binding: Bound in dark brown leather with filigree blind-tooling Acrylic presentational case
Commentary: 1 volume by Peter Klein, Franck Cinato and Fabien Laforge
Languages: German, French, English
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. Specially textured paper to resemble the aged original, cut according to the original shape.
Facsimile Copy Available!
Price Category: €€€
(3,000€ - 7,000€)
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