Signed and dated in 1313 by its illuminator, Colin Chadelve, this Apocalypse is a unique creation apparently designed to cater for its patron's demanding requirements. The images in this manuscript are extraordinary in terms of both their abundance and the quality of their pictorial technique. This codex features the longest iconographic cycle of the Book of Revelation of the entire Middle Ages.
The radiant colours, contrasting gold hues and lavish illustrations of the Apocalypse and Hell also transform this codex into a unique treasure. Today's privileged readers can observe the merciless punishments meted out to the damned in Hell thanks to the wealth of details in the artist's representations of the most horrific and surprising tortures: sinners being flayed, sawn in half, beaten on anvils, cast into cauldrons of boiling water or oil, having their eyes poked out with chisels and tongs... This manuscript differs from other codices depicting Hell, with its horrors and torments, as just another feature: here the artist lays great emphasis on it, giving free rein to his imagination.
The miniatures, homogenous in style throughout the manuscript, are brought alive by a remarkably dramatic force produced by the gestures of the figures, the liveliness of the scenes, the great colour range and the lavish use of gold.
This Apocalypse is also exceptional because, having very few traces of the Parisian style, it is a rare item amongst the French manuscripts of the early 14th century. Indeed, this Apocalypse is apparently an unusual adaptation of a very popular English Gothic type of book: an extraordinary one of a kind in textual and iconographic terms.
The artist of this manuscript manages to orchestrate four levels of interpretation in a coherent and unprecedented manner. He succeeds in combining the text of the Revelation and the traditional iconographic models and commentaries with his own perception of these texts, thereby giving rise to new meanings.
Experts agree that the Apocalypse of 1313 constitutes an important shift in the Gothic concept of illustrated Apocalypse codices towards a more personal and private prayer book to be used for innermost contemplation and meditation.