Flemish Apocalypse

Flemish Apocalypse f. 7r, The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse

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f. 7r, The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse

John sits against the left frame while he watches the events of chapter 6 unfold before him. He no longer has a thick mop of curly hair. At the opening of the first seal, a rider appears on a white horse. The rider has a large, double-convex bow and is about to shoot an arrow. A hand emerges from the clouds and places a golden crown on his head. The second horse, coloured red, carries a crowned rider with a large sword. Rain falls from the blue clouds above these two horsemen. When the third seal is opened, a brownish black horse bursts out of the earth in the lower left-hand corner of the miniature ridden by horseman with a pair of scales in his hand. At the opening of the fourth seal, a pale horse bolts from the mouth of hell. His rider, Death depicted as a skeleton, holds a long sword in his right hand, and two arrows in his left. Two hairy devils with fangs follow him. The fifth seal is opened and John sees, against a dark blue, cloudy sky covered with golden stars, an altar on which are a chalice, an open book and a burning candle. Five martyrs kneel beneath the altar. The opening of the sixth seal causes an earthquake. The sun turns black and the moon becomes crimson red. The earthquake makes the treetops snap, the castle towers fall and the castle gate breaks in two. Terrified, the people hide in caves in the mountains and pray.

The four living creatures, whose voices John hears when the first four seals are opened, stand on the left of the altar on the clouds under the darkened sun. On the right of the altar is the image of the Veronica. A few strands of long, thin, white hair frame the face of Christ. The colours of the earth vary from brownish green to olive green; there are grasses but no flowers in this miniature.


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