Cambrai Apocalypse

Alternate Titles:

Apokalypse von Cambrai, L’Apocalypse de Cambrai, Apocalisse di Cambrai

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Codiology

Alternate Titles

Apokalypse von Cambrai
L’Apocalypse de Cambrai
Apocalisse di Cambrai

Type
Extent / Format

96 pages / 31.0 x 23.0 cm

Origin
Date
End 9th century
Style
Genre
Content

Apocalypse of St. John

Language
Illustrations

46 full-page miniatures

Short description

The Cambrai Apocalypse impresses the beholder with its 46 astoundingly-well-preserved full-pages miniatures. Probably originating from Cambrai in northern France at the end of the 9th century, it is one of only four Carolingian Apocalypse manuscripts to survive. It distinctly stands out from among the rest because of its own distinct coloration and visual language. The painter managed to lend liveliness to the pictures with temple and city architecture which also makes it possible to pinpoint the location of the events. The stylistic connection of late antiquity and Frankish influences is interesting. Temple architecture with both Corinthian columns and palmettes serve as stages.

Facsimile editions available

Description

Cambrai Apocalypse

The Cambrai Apocalypse is counted among the oldest Apocalypse manuscripts in the world and is a true masterpiece. With 46 astonishingly-well-preserved full-page miniatures, it transplants the beholder into the exciting period of the Carolingian Renaissance of more than 1,100 years ago.

A Rarity in Book Art

Worldwide, only four Carolingian Apocalypse manuscripts survive. Probably originating from Cambrai in northern France at the end of the 9th century, this specimen stands out from the rest through its coloration and imagery. It is furnished with countless narrative devices, which can only be sought for in vain in the others. Temple and urban architecture contributes a certain liveliness to the pictures and pinpoints the locations of the events. Additionally, stylized depictions of plants emphasize their closeness to reality and the effort with which they were made. The intensity of the colors is noteworthy, which still appear forceful after 1,100 years and have forfeited nothing of their luminosity.

Late Antiquity as a Source of Inspiration

The stylistic connection of late antiquity and Frankish influences, as can be recognized in the depictions, is particularly interesting. Temple architecture with both Corinthian columns and palmettes serve as stages. The figures perform before these, mostly dressed in tunics, togas, and sandals. The two-dimensional people communicate with one another through various hand gestures and can be connected with one another by the beholder. The composition always remains clear and harmonious, largely thanks to the frequently stripped composition. Additionally, each miniature is surrounded by richly patterned moldings, of which no two are alike.

Visions of the Last Days

Apocalypse manuscripts contain texts that thematize both the visions as well as prophecies of the coming end of the world. Most of these are connected with the presentation of the Last Judgement, as is described in the Gospel of Mathew. The Revelation of John originated in the first century after Christ and comprises the last book of the New Testament. The visions described therein have captivated people since then and has motivated artists above all to transmit the symbolic language in creative imagery. The surprising thing about Apocalypse manuscripts is that each is absolutely unique and implement the text in their own way. It for this reason above all that this is a beloved and fascinating collection area.

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