The Apocalypse of 1313

The Apocalypse of 1313 f. 54r, The rain of hailstones (Revelation 16: 21)

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f. 54r, The rain of hailstones (Revelation 16: 21)

The painting is devoted entirely to depicting the “fearful hail” beating down upon mankind. Emerging from the solid clouds featuring folds like draperies with scalloped hems, are elongated flames and a shower of huge, oblong hailstones falling straight down on the earth. The weight of these enormous hailstones, approximately “eighty pounds” according to the modern translation of the Bible, is reckoned by John to be a talent, a variable unit of weight used by the Greeks in the times when the Apocalypse was written. The commentator explains that there are three types of talents: the large talent weighing one hundred and twenty pounds, leading to eternal damnation for those it strikes; the medium talent weighing seventy-two pounds, representing the blasphemies heaped upon God in seventy-two languages; and finally the small talent weighing fifty pounds which symbolises nothing, probably because it was deemed too small to be of importance in a cataclysm of these dimensions. Hence, each person is struck in proportion to his acts and the punishments deserved. The shower of heavy, pointed stones causes serious wounds to the people depicted in a variety of poses. Some raise their hand to curse the heavens rather than to protect themselves from the blows, whilst others gesticulate and fall over each other, lying scattered upon the ground still suffering the aftermath of the earthquake.

Marie-Thérèse Gousset and Marianne Besseyre
Illuminated Manuscripts Research Center, Bibliothèque nationale de France
Fragment of the Apocalypse of 1313 commentary volume

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