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Jean Fouquet Capture of Jeru by Herod.jpg

Jean Fouquet’s 'Capture of Jerusalem by Herod in 36 BC', from 'Antiquites Judaiques'

This image of the capture of Jerusalem by Herod in 36 BCE is taken from illuminated images made by master illustrator Jean Fouquet to accompany a French translation of Josephus’ Antiquities of the Jews. Fouquet began around 1410 CE, originally intending the work for the Duc de Berry, and finished around 1476 CE, with the work ultimately destined for the Duc de Nemours. There was an upsurge in interest in manuscripts dedicated to Jewish history in fifteenth-century Europe and this work is part of that trend. Fouquet’s lavish images follow Josephus’ text fairly faithfully. In this image we see Herod’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem alongside the Romans and the Roman general Sossius. In the background the High Priest continues with cultic ritual in the Temple sanctuary while, in the centre of the image, Fouquet appears to have included a ritual Jewish bath (mikveh) in which, in a conflation of Josephus's narratives, another High Priest and enemy of Herod’s, Aristobulus, appears to have just been drowned. As with Fouquet’s image of the Siege of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar, the dress and architecture of this image—with the exception of the rebuilt Temple—owes more to late medieval Northern European style than to the historical Jerusalem. This tendency may also be seen in the Angers Apocalypse Tapestry.

Silos Apocalypse New Jeru.JPG

The Silos Apocalypse

This early twelfth century CE image of the New Jerusalem is from the Beatus family of Apocalypse manuscripts and depicts Christ seated on his throne, above the river and tree of life. Produced mainly in Spain between the ninth to the twelfth centuries CE, at monasteries in Catalonia, Aragon, Navarre, and elsewhere, the Beatus Apocalypse manuscripts are all based on the Apocalypse commentary of the eighth century Abbot Beatus of Liebana. They all reflect a similar iconography, quite distinct from the Anglo-Norman Apocalypse iconography that had developed in Northern Europe and is reflected in the Trinity Apocalypse and the Angers Apocalypse tapestry. The images in the Beatus Apocalypse manuscripts tend to be uncluttered, dramatic and vividly coloured. This image of the New Jerusalem, from the Silos Apocalypse, is no exception. An angel with very elongated fingers shows John not the descending city of the New Jerusalem but instead the River of Life, descending from the throne of God and the Lamb (Revelation 22:1–2). This throne is depicted as identical with the Heavenly Throne Room described in Revelation 4–5. Thus God/Christ is surrounded by the twenty-four elders, who point at him with elongated fingers. To the left of the river is the Tree of Life. While the text declares the Tree of Life to be growing on both sides of the river—a physical impossibility—the artist has quite sensibly elected to depict it on one side only. This image of the New Jerusalem radiates a reassuring sense of calm but, with its heavy visual divide between the heavenly and earthly realms—evoked via a heavy and ornate brown barrier underneath the heavenly throne room—it perhaps lacks the sense of interactivity between the divine and the human that the text of Revelation is at pains to stress.

Fouquet Siege of Jeru by Neb.jpg

Jean Fouquet’s 'The Siege of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar' from Antiquites Judaiques

This image of the capture of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar in 586 BCE is taken from illuminated images made by master illustrator Jean Fouquet to accompany a French translation of Josephus’ Antiquities of the Jews. Fouquet began around 1410 CE, originally intending the work for the Duc de Berry, and finished around 1476 CE, with the work ultimately destined for the Duc de Nemours. There was an upsurge in interest in manuscripts dedicated to Jewish history in fifteenth century Europe and this work is part of that trend. The siege and subsequent capture of Jerusalem and the Temple was a pivotal moment in Jewish history and Josephus, a first century CE Jewish historian, devotes a significant part of his Antiquities of the Jews to the episode. He reports that Nebuchadnezzar, having besieged the city, sent in General Nebuzaradan to pillage and burn the Temple, to kill and capture the priests, and to exile the Jewish people to Babylon. Fouquet’s lavish images follow Josephus’ text fairly faithfully. We see, for example, the Babylonian forces entering the temple and killing and capturing priests in the background of the image. The Temple has been set on fire, and flames and wisps of smoke are visible. The habit of depicting Jerusalem and the Temple in contemporary terms, which apparent also in Cranach and the Angers tapestry, is clear here as well. The Temple itself, for example, though faithfully depicted as gold and cubic in shape, resembles the Cathedral at Tours more than any historical or biblical descriptions. See also Fouquet's image of Herod's entry into Jerusalem.

Flemish Apocalypse New Jerusalem cropped.jpg

'The New Jerusalem' from The Flemish Apocalypse

The Flemish Apocalypse is the first extant illustrated Apocalypse originating from the Low Countries and dates to around 1400 CE. In contrast to earlier illustrated Apocalypses such as the Trinity Apocalypse or the Bamberg Apocalypse, which sometimes devoted more than eighty images to visualising the text of Revelation, The Flemish Apocalypse uses only twenty-two images. This results in a more compressed, economical imagining of the vision, in which each image combines several elements of the narrative. In this case, all the elements of the New Jerusalem vision from Revelation 21—the descent of the city, the measuring of the city, and so on—are presented in a single image, while The River of Life from Revelation 22 is not depicted at all. Although the disproportionately large Lamb representing Christ is situated in the middle of the city, God remains in the heavenly realm above, indicating resistance on the part of the artists or theological advisors to depict God amongst mankind. Similar reservations are reflected in the Angers Apocalypse Tapestry and in the Trinity Apocalypse. The city itself takes the form of a castle, with twelve gates guarded by the twelve angels decreed in Revelation 21:12. While clearly not based on the actual city of Jerusalem, the Flemish Apocalypse's visualisation of the celestial Jerusalem has a realism lacking in earlier representations. The Flemish artists have also made an attempt to people the city (contrast the Bamberg Apocalypse), with kings offering each other gifts. This also gives the Flemish New Jerusalem a more celebratory air, compared to previous renditions.