Flemish Apocalypse

Flemish Apocalypse f. 20r, The great harlot


f. 20r, The great harlot

Two busts of angels, painted tone on tone blue, flank the image of the Veronica. Golden stars twinkle in between the clouds. The sky beneath the clouds is dark red and red rain falls from it. On the left, a feathered angel pulls John up by his cloak so he can see great harlot well. The woman sits side-saddle on a seven-headed beast with seven instead of the ten horns mentioned in the text. The beast stands on water that divides into five streams. The woman is dressed in a light-coloured gown embroidered with green twigs; the sleeves and the hem of her gown are trimmed with ermine. The gown has a plunging neckline and a double golden belt that ends in a tassel. A plait covers her left ear and she wears a golden crown. In her outstretched arms she holds a golden chalice with a serpent, the symbol of her lechery, wriggling in it. Behind her, the Lamb emerges from the clouds. He holds a cross-staff with a swallow-tailed pennon charged with a red cross and a targe inscribed with a red cross, both of which he hands over to two kings in full armour. In the foreground, eight heavily armed kings push the crowned but otherwise naked woman into the fire. She is still holding the chalice with the serpent and turns in fear to look at the first king who prods her with the cross-staff.

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