Getty Apocalypse

Getty Apocalypse

London (United Kindgom) — ca. 1255

Impressive book illumination of the English Gothic: the last days of humanity from the perspective of the God-fearing High Middle Ages

  1. This Apocalypse from the Getty Museum in Los Angeles belongs among the highpoints of 13th century English Gothic illumination

  2. Allows a direct insight into the perception of the biblical apocalypse in the High Middle Ages

  3. Gold and silver adorn the wonderfully and colorfully designed illustrations in green frames above the text

Getty Apocalypse

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  1. Description
  2. Detail Picture
  3. Single Page
  4. Facsimile Editions (1)
Description
Getty Apocalypse

The so-called Getty Apocalypse, named after the J. Paul Getty Museum where it is stored, belongs among the highpoints of 13th English illumination. Impressive miniatures illustrate the extraordinary tales of the Book of Revelation. The powerful biblical text is supplemented with the accompanying Berengaudus Commentary from the 11th century. In each case, a framed half-page miniature illustrates the respective text passages. The depictions stand firmly in the tradition of English Gothic, with graceful figures and wonderfully vivid landscapes. The pictorial adornment of the manuscript is crowned by the countless splendidly historiated initials. The narrative force of the Apocalypse is visualized through the connection with the miniatures from the hand of a great master. Today the Getty Apocalypse still impresses nearly every lover of medieval illumination.

Getty Apocalypse

The so-called Getty Apocalypse, named after the J. Paul Getty Museum where it is stored, belongs among the highpoints of 13th English illumination. Impressive miniatures illustrate the extraordinary tales of the Book of Revelation. The powerful biblical text is supplemented with the accompanying Berengaudus Commentary from the 11th century. In each case, a framed half-page miniature illustrates the respective text passages. The depictions stand firmly in the tradition of English Gothic, with graceful figures and wonderfully vivid landscapes. The pictorial adornment of the manuscript is crowned by the countless splendidly historiated initials. The narrative force of the Apocalypse is visualized through the connection with the miniatures from the hand of a great master. Today the Getty Apocalypse still impresses nearly every lover of medieval illumination.

The Fantastical Book of Revelation

The Apocalypse with the terrifying tales of the end of the world and the accompanying events fit wonderfully into the world view of the 13th century. This worldview was visualized in the illustrations of the Getty Apocalypse. The Book of Revelation is a powerful, poetic text, which inspired medieval illuminators to grandiose pictorial inventions. The visions of destroyed cities, fearsome dragons and apocalyptic creatures, battling knights, and an enthroned God are sometimes infused with fear, sometimes simply awe-inspiring. As one of the most beautiful illustrated manuscripts of the Book of Revelation, the Getty Apocalypse – probably originating ca. 1255 in London – gives a direct insight into the perception of this biblical prophecy in the 13th century.

Splendor and Terror in Color and Gold

The Getty Apocalypse collects an unbelievable pictorial adornment of 82 miniatures and 42 historicized initials across a total of 92 pages. The splendid English manuscript is considered to be a work of exceptional artistry. Gold and silver adorn the wonderfully and colorfully designed illustrations, which are always mounted in a green frame above the text. Elegant figures with slender statures in accordance with the Gothic style are shown in front of wonderful urban, natural, and fantastical settings. The qualitatively exceptional, high-quality colored drawings present scenes from the Book of Revelation. The often terrifying scenes are illustrated in wonderfully vivid depictions. For example, in the depiction of the flood, where, under a black Sun and an askew moon, the waves roll over the people in unbelievable audacity.

Outstanding Artwork of Gothic Illumination

The artist of the Getty Apocalypse proved himself to be an outstanding master of book illumination with his miniatures. Wonderful pictorial inventions and compositions enrich the manuscript. The scenes sometimes overlap the borders, which lends the depictions an additional liveliness. Also the figure of John accompanies every miniature as a narrator and direct link to the events. The artistic adornment of the book is additionally indicated by the 42 wonderful historicized initials. These are initial ornaments with representations from profane iconography, be they scenes from Aesop’s Fables or simple figures for the amusement and entertainment of the reader away from the terrifying pictures of the Apocalypse.

Cryptic Pictures

The respectively associated text in black ink can be read under the miniatures, accompanied by the Berengaudus Commentary to the Apocalypse. This clarifying text from the second half of the 11th by a monk named Berengaudus century accompanies the actual text of the Book of Revelation in red ink. In this way, the biblical text of the Book of Revelation, its explanation and interpretation from the 11th century, and the grandiose English illumination of the 13th century are combined in an exceptionally artistic masterpiece – the *Getty Apocalypse!

Codicology

Alternative Titles
Dyson Perrins Apocalypse
Getty-Apokalypse
Size / Format
92 pages / 31.5 × 23.1 cm
Date
ca. 1255
Style
Language
Script
Gothic Textura Prescissa
Illustrations
82 miniatures and numerous historiated initials
Content
The Book of Revelation and the Berengaudus Commentary
Previous Owners
Charles Fairfax Murray (1849–1919)
Charles William Dyson Perrins (1864–1958)
Hans P. Kraus, Sr. (1907–1988)
Dr. Peter Ludwig (1925–96) and Irene Ludwig (1927–2010)

Available facsimile editions:
Getty Apocalypse – MS Ludwig III 1 – Getty Museum (Los Angeles, USA)
The Folio Society – London, 2011
Limited Edition: 1000 copies
Detail Picture

German Prayer Book of the Margravine of Brandenburg

The Dragon Fighting the Just

Taking the form of a seven-headed dragon with seven crowns, Satan does battles with Christian soldiers on Earth after having been defeated and cast down by the archangel Michael during the War in Heaven. John, the author of the Book of Revelation, looks away from the carnage in horror: “And the dragon was enraged with the woman, and he went to make war with the rest of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.” (Rev. 12:17)

Getty Apocalypse
Single Page

Getty Apocalypse

The Opening of the Sixth Seal: The Great Earthquake

The opening of the Seven Seals brings about seven catastrophes, including a great earthquake at which point the sun turns black, the moon turns red, and the stars fall from the sky. This causes the people on earth to flee into caves seeking shelter from God’s wrath. In the lavish historiated initial, an archer takes aim at a bird with the face of a bearded man.

A lone king resigns himself to his fate and holds a scroll with the relevant passage: “Then the sky receded as a scroll when it is rolled up, and every mountain and island was moved out of its place. And the kings of the earth, the great men, the rich men, the commanders, the mighty men, every slave and every free man, hid themselves in the caves and in the rocks of the mountains” (Rev. 6:14–15)

Getty Apocalypse
Facsimile Editions

#1 Getty Apocalypse

The Folio Society – London, 2011
Getty Apocalypse – MS Ludwig III 1 – Getty Museum (Los Angeles, USA)
Getty Apocalypse – MS Ludwig III 1 – Getty Museum (Los Angeles, USA) Copyright Photos: Ziereis Facsimiles

Publisher: The Folio Society – London, 2011
Limited Edition: 1000 copies
Binding: Quarter-bound in Wassa Goatskin with vegetable parchment sides. Printed and blocked in four foils with a design by David Eccles. Printed on Furioso paper with gilded and shuffled page edges. Ribbon marker. Presented with the commentary volume in a Solander box.
Commentary: 1 volume (136 pages) by Nigel J. Morgan
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: € (under 1,000€)
Edition available
Please ask for a quote!
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