Flemish Apocalypse

Flemish Apocalypse f. 21r, The fall of Babylon


f. 21r, The fall of Babylon

John does not appear in this miniature. As in the preceding miniature, the Vera Icon is rendered against a band of dark blue clouds, flanked by two busts of blue, feathered angels. From the starry clouds descends blue rain against a black-blue sky. An angel cries that Babylon the great has fallen and that it has become a refuge for the devil and unclean birds. The walled-in city looks as if a heavy earthquake has hit it: towers topple and walls crack. A hairy, red devil and a bird have taken possession of the city. In the clouds above the city hangs a feathered angel who points at the bird of prey that he holds by its left wing. Three men flee from the city. They cross over the bridge and are met by a group of four, one of them a king. He wears a long, trailing cloak and an ermine shoulder cape. The man behind the king is dressed in a short, blue coat with very wide sleeves. A brooch is pinned to his hood. The man on the other side of the king has a brooch on his soft hat, as do two of the men leaving the city. Behind the group of waiting men, the sea is in turmoil and its waters run diagonally over the page under the bridge to the lower right-hand corner. Three ships are at sea, a hulk with its pronounced hog and crow’s-nest, and two cogs with masts placed forward. Towing a dinghy is a hulk with billowing sails. The first cog lies abandoned upon the waves, its sail furled up and a dinghy alongside. It is heavily loaded with goods. In the smaller cog behind it, a man rows with all his might to prevent his vessel from being blown ashore. At his feet lie white sacks full of merchandise. Walking upon the shore across the water are two men. The first one is dressed in a laced-up doublet with straight, wide sleeves. He wears a golden hip-belt and two-coloured hose. Behind him walks a man in a high-collared, white garment. Both are crowned. The crown of the first king is of the usual type appearing elsewhere in the manuscript whilst the crown of the second figure is in the form of a broad band with golden chains. The first king holds a blank scroll in his left hand. Both men point skywards and look up at the image of the Veronica. The text offers no explanation for this scene. Behind the men flies the mighty angel bearing the great millstone, which he is about to throw into the water to destroy Babylon, in his hands.

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