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Harvey Miller
J. Williams
The Illustrated Beatus: The Twelfth and Thirteenth Centuries

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416 p., 542 b/w ill., 235 x 335 mm, 2003
ISBN: 978-0-905203-95-9
Languages: English
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Retail price: EUR 115,00 excl. tax
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This publication is the fifth and final volume in the series that catalogues and illustrates all extant manuscripts of Beatus’s Commentary on the Apocalypse. It is a tradition that originated in the monastery of San Toribio in the valley of Liébana, where the monk Beatus compiled his commentary on the Book of Revelation in 776 A.D., and that had its last manifestation in the stylistically exuberant manuscript in Paris, the Arroyo Beatus, produced shortly before the middle of the thirteenth century.
Six illustrated Commentaries and one fragment are catalogued in the present volume. The spectacular Rylands Beatus in Manchester, dated around 1175 and the Las Huelgas Beatus in New York, made some fifty years later, contain the most complete cycles of illustrations, and both also have links with the Castilian capital of Burgos. The Cardeña Beatus, which has a more complex origin, is now divided between four different collections, though a major part of the manuscript is now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Also catalogued is the sophisticated Romanesque Beatus of Navarre in Paris, as well as the only Commentary produced in Portugal – the Lorvão Beatus now in Lisbon. The fragment also included here, consisting of a single folio plus part of another, found its way from Medina de Rioseco to Mexico in the 16th century, and by chance contained illustrations that allowed it to be identified as part of a Beatus Commentary of the early thirteenth century.
In addition to the author’s Introduction and detailed catalogue, the volume includes a corpus of more than 500 illustrations. As in the catalogues of earlier periods, all inscriptions contained in the manuscripts have been transcribed, and an overview of apocalypse subjects illustrated in all 26 surviving manuscripts can be seen on the clearly presented Table. The exhaustive Bibliography is here updated and there is an Index.


"This presentation of the Beatus manuscripts is monumental and useful, but it leaves one hungering for more. Of course, that may be one of its best features." (J. Fredell in Medieval Review, August 2004)

"(...) le tome V du présent Corpus constitue un instrument de travail très précieux." (J. Leclercq-Marx dans Revue belge d'archéologie et d'histoire d'art, p.108-111)

"Williams has presented us not only with the main images from these little-known manuscripts, but has also given a comprehensive and balanced account of the state of scholarship." (R. Walker in The Burlington Magazine, March 2005, CXLVII, p.188)

"Il faut saluer sans réserve la bonne fin d'une entreprise majeure: la publication de la série exceptionnelle des 5 volumes qui présentent le corpus complet des illustrations du Commentaire sur l'Apocalypse de Beatus. (...) Le corpus de J. Williams est désormais complet. À la fois aboutissement d'une vie de recherches, et somme pour tous les travaux futurs, il se confirme pleinement comme une contribution capitale à l'histoire de l'art, mais aussi à l'histoire des idées et de la vie religieuse." (C. Heck dans Bulletin Monumental, 162.4, 2004, p.328-330)

"On ne peut que se réjouir de voir ces trésors mis ici à la portée de tout lecteur intéressé par les chefs-d'oeuvre de l'enluminure médiévale et prêt à consacrer un peu de son superflu pour s'offrir le bonheur de pouvoir les contempler à loisir." (R. Gryson dans Revue d'Histoire ecclésiastique, 99#3/404, p.826-828)

Interest Classification:
Book History, Manuscript Studies & Palaeography
Illumination & illustration of books
Religion (including History of Religion) & Theology
Judaeo-Christian Bible : texts criticism & exegesis
New Testament
Christian devotion & forms of religious expression
Hagiographical writings & the cult of saints

This publication is also distributed by: ISD, Marston
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