Produced in Normandy between 1320 and 1330, the Val Dieu Apocalypse is a remarkable example of Gothic style from the north-western area of France. Its 47 parchment folios, measuring 32.5 × 22.5 cm, boast 83 extremely sophisticated half-page miniatures in which brilliant colors and gold merge with the remarkable realism of characters’ expressions. The Gothic text of the Apocalypse is penned in two columns, one in Latin and one in French.
Fireworks of Color and Gold
The decorative apparatus features eighty-three colorful, gold-illuminated miniatures on diapered grounds, foliate borders with birds and animals, and framed initials in colors or gold on colored grounds. Along with the 47 folios, the manuscript also includes seven unfoliated leaves: two paper flyleaves, two parchment flyleaves at the beginning, two parchment flyleaves, and one paper flyleaf at the end.
The manuscript’s style is connected to similar works made in Normandy in the years around 1320-1330: the Apocalypse of Saint-Victor (Paris, BnF MS lat. 14410), the Cloisters Apocalypse (New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Cloisters Collection MS 68.174) and Namur, Grand Seminaire, MS 77.
An Aristocratic Couple’s Wish
Armorial shields within the manuscript indicate that the patrons might have been a wealthy couple from Normandy, also pictured in the Cloisters Apocalypse kept in the New York Metropolitan Museum. An unknown hand of the 17th century inscribed the sentence ex libris cartusiae vallis dei onto the codex. The volume was bought by the British Museum on May 6, 1848, from the London bookseller Thomas Rodd the younger.
Post-1600 green leather binding with gold tooling.
- Images courtesy of the British Library