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Leaf from an Apocalypse manuscript with miniatures
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Unknown
German, about 1340 - 1350
Tempera colors, gold leaf, and brown and black ink on parchment

17 7/8 x 12 in.
MS. 108

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This large, double-sided leaf once introduced the Book of Revelations, the final book of the Christian Bible, presented almost exclusively in pictures. The text inspired the creation of many illuminated manuscripts in England, Spain, and Germany in the twelfth through fifteenth centuries. The theme became especially popular after 1244, when Jerusalem fell to the Muslims, which people feared was a signal that the end of time was approaching.

This leaf originally formed part of an elaborate pictorial manuscript depicting Saint John's visions and expressing his authority as a conveyor of the word of God. The tremendous size of the illustrations, and only brief snippets of text, suggest the artist intended the imagery was a primary means of communicating the meaning of the Revelations. Large-scale picture books of the Apocalypse from Germany, although exceedingly rare, provide an unusual regional example of such imagery in the Middle Ages.

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