The Apocalypse of 1313

The Apocalypse of 1313 f. 62r, The treasures of Babylon (Ap. 18, 11-14)


f. 62r, The treasures of Babylon (Ap. 18, 11-14)

The fall of Babylon and the ensuing lamentations are the subject of an entire chapter of the Revelation which Colin Chadewe took pleasure in breaking down into many paintings. Whilst following the progress of John’s narrative step by step, they evoke the end of the city in different ways in order to perpetuate the event, varying appearances to avoid repetitions.

After being destroyed by fire, the city, personified by the great harlot, falls head first into the gaping, blazing mouth of Leviathan emerging from the water. Still grasping the cup of her sins, she is cast into Hell under the gaze of the merchants standing a short distance away on dry land. They watch her fate, which will inevitably bring about their own downfall, in horror. This scene occupies the bottom half of the composition whilst the upper section depicts the contents of the merchandise responsible for the traders’ wealth in detail.

The inventory of the goods mentioned by John covers three registers. The artist devotes the first two to luxury items. Hanging from a rod, next to a gilded, bronze thurible, are curtains and bags of different sizes made of fine linen and scarlet, woven with golden or silver thread. Displayed on a white cushion beneath them are items of jewellery with multicoloured gemstones set in gold mounts and surrounded by pearls. Laid out alongside them are glass goblets, precious vessels, copperware and phials of perfumes, myrrh and incense, and spices too: cinnamon and cardamom with odorous seeds. Gathered in the third register are barrels of wine and oil, horses with splendid saddles, a flock of sheep, and finally a sack and basket of wheat.

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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