Cloisters Apocalypse

Cloisters Apocalypse

Normandy (France) — Ca. 1330

A treasure of the Channel School from the early-14th century: 72 large miniatures resembling contemporary stained-glass windows created with gold and silver leaf, rich tempera paints, and colored inks

  1. Created in Normandy, France ca. 1330, the Cloisters Apocalypse is named after its modern repository in New York City

  2. It is unique for its “softened” depiction of the Book of Revelation and inclusion of an image cycle from the childhood of Jesus

  3. Numerous Spanish influences can be seen in the miniatures, which went on to influence South German Gothic illumination

Cloisters Apocalypse

68,174 The Cloisters Museum and Gardens (New York, USA)
  1. Description
  2. Facsimile Editions (1)
Cloisters Apocalypse

The magnificent Cloisters Apocalypse manuscript originated from Normandy, France ca. 1330 and is adorned by 72 large miniatures that resemble contemporary designs for stained-glass windows including four full-page miniatures, which were created with gold and silver leaf, rich tempera paints, and colored inks. Its miniatures are executed in the Soft Style of Gothic illumination and present the Book of Revelation in a dreamlike manner that mixes the most menacing figures of the Apocalypse with pleasant scenes of courtly domesticity. The influence of Beatus of Liébana’s Commentary on the Apocalypse can be seen in the Spanish artistic influences found throughout the manuscript. This luminous image-forward codex, with its graceful and masterfully designed miniatures in which the Four Horsemen appear frequently, is counted among the small but elite group of illuminated manuscripts at The Cloisters in New York City.

Cloisters Apocalypse

Stylistically speaking, the manuscript appears to come from Normandy and furthermore, a dedication page at the end of the manuscript with a coat of arms that has been partially erased points to de Montigny family, a Norman noble house from Coutances. However, it is unique among early-14th century illuminated Apocalypse manuscripts from the region because it has an introductory image cycle from the childhood of Jesus and finishes with a series of images emphasizing John of Patmos’ personal connection with Jesus Christ. Although it is not known how, the manuscript came to Switzerland by 1368, possibly Zofingen Abbey in Aargau, and may have influenced German artists preparing to work on the famous Codex Manesse and thus represents an important link between the Channel School and the Gothic style of southern Germany. Over the next few centuries, the Cloisters Apocalypse passed through various private hands before it was acquired by The Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1968.

A Softer Image of the Apocalypse

72 miniatures, including 4 full-page miniatures divided into two registers, gorgeously illustrate the events of the Book of Revelation. The full pages depict scenes from the life of Christ beginning with the Annunciation and ending with the Flight to Egypt and it is these introductory images full of pleasant scenes of domesticity that set the tone for the rest of the work. While the image program is very similar to the Lambeth Apocalypse, which originated ca. 50 years previously, the atmosphere in which the events are presented is totally different. Events in the Lambeth Apocalypse are terrifying: faces are contorted in horror, bodies are deformed and twisted in physical and psychological pain, and menacing monsters roar. The Cloisters Apocalypse, on the other hand, bears a closer resemblance to a contemporary bestiary and presents the events as though they were a natural part of history; even the grotesques and monsters appear more comical than terrifying.

The Manuscript Collection at The Cloisters

Also known as the Met Cloisters because they are a branch of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Cloisters is a museum specializing in medieval European art and architecture. Located on four acres in Manhattan’s Fort Tryon Park, the museum consists of elements from four medieval French cloisters that were taken apart, transported, and reconstructed according to the designs of architect Charles Collens and under the close, sometimes onerous management of John D. Rockefeller Jr. The museum opened in 1938 after decades of work.
Most of the collection of ca. 5,000 items consists of sculptures, statuary, paintings, tapestries, panel painting, altarpieces, and stained-glass windows but also includes a small selection of illuminated manuscripts that is nonetheless of the highest quality. Aside from the present Apocalypse manuscript, it includes the Belles Heures du Duc de Berry, the Hours of Jeanne d'Evreux, the Psalter of Bonne de Luxembourg, and a small book of hours attributed to Simon Bening that was acquired in a 2015.


Alternative Titles
Cloisters Apocalypse
Size / Format
80 pages / 31.5 × 23.8 cm
Ca. 1330
Gothic Textura Gothic cursive
4 full-page miniatures on fol. 1r-2v; 71 half-page miniatures
Book of Revelation
Previous Owners
Robert Pecham
Thomas Darellus
Antoine de Lescazes
Etienne Cauvy
Dr. Louis-Maximien Rey
Baron Auvray
Hôtel des Ventes, Tours
Baron Edmond James de Rothschild
Alexandrine de Rothschild
Palais Galliéra, Paris
H. P. Kraus

Available facsimile editions:
The Cloisters Apocalypse
Bernardinum Wydawnictwo – Pelpin, 2021
Limited Edition: 999 copies
Facsimile Editions

#1 The Cloisters Apocalypse

Bernardinum Wydawnictwo – Pelpin, 2021

Publisher: Bernardinum Wydawnictwo – Pelpin, 2021
Limited Edition: 999 copies
Binding: Brown embossed leather with two metal clasps
Commentary: 1 volume by Florens Deuchler, Jeffrey M. Hoffeld and Helmut Nickel
Language: English
1 volume: Exact reproduction of the original document (extent, color and size) Reproduction of of the entire original document as detailed as possible (scope, format, colors). The binding may not correspond to the original or current document binding.
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