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The Oxford Apokalypse
The book of Revelation in 97 mystical miniatures
Oxford, Bodleian Library, Ms. Douce 180, Westminster, around 1272

CODICES SELECTI, Vol. LXXII

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Further Pictures

 

he Apocalypse 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. 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 mysterious miniatures

In all, 97 miniatures accompany the Latin text of the Revelation of Saint John, the 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 with 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 the 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.

Also published as vol. 19 of the series "Glanzlichter der Buchkunst"

   
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