Oxford Apocalypse

Oxford Apocalypse

Court School of Westminster (United Kingdom) — ca. 1272

Commissioned by King Edward I of England: an exceptionally richly illuminated masterpiece with fascinating miniatures

  1. A spectacular 13th century commission by King Edward I of England (1239–1307) and his wife Eleanor of Castile-León

  2. The sheer number of its miniatures, 97 in total, earns it a foremost position among works of this period

  3. The use of landscape as a new element of miniature design lends them a fascinating, peculiar liveliness

Oxford Apocalypse

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

In England during the High Middle Ages, Apocalypse manuscripts became very popular, as they had been in Spain in pervious centuries. Referred to more often today as the Book of Revelation, its wondrous, frightening, even psychedelic imagery provided wonderful material for the imaginative and innovative artists of the Gothic era. The Oxford Apocalypse or Ms. Douce 180 ranks among the most significant English manuscripts of the 13th century. Alone the sheer number of its miniatures, 97 in total, earns it a foremost position among all other illuminated works of this period. Likely commissioned by Edward I of England and his wife Eleanor of Castilia-León prior to the royal coronation, the manuscript enjoyed an interesting and mostly-unknown history of ownership before making its way to Oxford's Bordleian Library.

Oxford Apocalypse

The Oxford Apocalypse or Ms. Douce 180 ranks among the most significant English manuscripts of the 13th century. The sheer number of its miniatures earns it a foremost position among all other illuminated works of this period. The artistic decoration and composition of the manuscript betray the strong personality and individuality of the artist who painted it. The use of landscape as a new element of miniature design lends the illustrations a fascinating, albeit peculiar liveliness. 97 miniatures in all accompany the Latin text of the Revelation of Saint John, the most mysterious book of the New Testament. The glorious framed miniatures are more than just mere additions to the text, indeed they are of central importance.

A Turbulent History

The English King Edward I and his spouse Eleanor of Castilia-León had commissioned this Apocalypse before their ascent to the throne in 1272, probably from the court school of Westminster. Little, however, is known about the manuscript’s later destiny. What we do know is that it belonged to Francis Douce before it passed to the Bodleian Library in Oxford. In the year 1834, Douce left it to said library where it is kept to this day. The deluxe full leather binding in which the manuscript is currently bound was produced around 1600 by an Oxfordian artist. The binding of the facsimile edition constitutes a faithful replica of this last original binding. The scholarly commentary with its 171 figures on 284 pages expertly guides the reader through the manuscript. Today’s public now has access to the Apocalypse thanks to this perfectly executed facsimile edition of the 13th century manuscript.

Codicology

Alternative Titles
Apokalypse Oxford
Douce Apocalypse
Size / Format
168 pages / 31.1 × 20.3 cm
Date
ca. 1272
Style
Language
Script
Gothic Textura Prescissa
Illustrations
97 miniatures (gold + silver) with colorful frames, each of them on a half page
Previous Owners
William Wilson
Thomas Thorpe
Francis Douce (1757–1834)

Available facsimile editions:
Oxford Apocalypse – Ms. Douce 180 – Bodleian Library (Oxford, United Kingdom)
Akademische Druck- u. Verlagsanstalt (ADEVA) – Graz, 1981
Limited Edition: 1000 numbered copies for the non-French speaking world
Detail Picture

Oxford Apocalypse

The First Resurrection

After the initial defeat and millennium-long imprisonment of Satan, Christ and the saints reign over the earth raising the martyrs: “And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was committed to them. Then I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands. And they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.” (Rev 20:4)

Die Apokalypse Oxford
Single Page

Oxford Apocalypse

Fifth Trumpet: Locusts Riding

“The shape of the locusts was like horses prepared for battle. On their heads were crowns of something like gold, and their faces were like the faces of men. They had hair like women’s hair, and their teeth were like lions’ teeth. And they had breastplates like breastplates of iron, and the sound of their wings was like the sound of chariots with many horses running into battle.” (Rev. 9:7–9)

During the First Woe, a star falls from the sky, opening up a bottomless pit. An army of locusts with scorpions’ tales, commanded by the angel Abaddon, emerges to torment those without the seal of God on their foreheads for five months. They are depicted advancing in formation, the shining silver of their mail and gold of their crowns contrasting with their dark and hideous appearance.

Die Apokalypse Oxford
Facsimile Editions

#1 Die Apokalypse Oxford

Oxford Apocalypse – Ms. Douce 180 – Bodleian Library (Oxford, United Kingdom)
Oxford Apocalypse – Ms. Douce 180 – Bodleian Library (Oxford, United Kingdom) Copyright Photos: Ziereis Facsimiles

Limited Edition: 1000 numbered copies for the non-French speaking world
Binding: Exact reproduction of the 16th century leather binding, protected by a slipcase. All folios are cut according to the original.
Commentary: 1 volume (284 pages) by Peter K. Klein
Language: German
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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