Opening the Fourth Seal; The Fourth Horseman

Unknownabout 1255 - 1260

The J. Paul Getty Museum

The J. Paul Getty Museum

In chapter six of the Apocalypse, Saint John the Evangelist described his vision of the four horsemen who herald the coming of the Last Judgment. To the far right, from within the miniature, an eagle, one of the four living creatures described in the text, beckons Saint John, who stands in the margin. The eagle calls him to witness the vision of the fourth horseman of the Apocalypse. As the saint records: "And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him." In comparison with the thin, attenuated saint, who shrinks back from the scene, the rider radiates a fierce physical presence. Prompted by the text, the artist depicted hell literally following the horseman. Hell appears as a monstrous animal head, whose mouth is populated by a varied group including monks, bishops, ordinary people, and a king, topped by a demon who appears as a captive of the inexorable horseman. The tinted drawing technique gives the miniature a sense of spontaneity, seen in the movement of the galloping horse and the thrust of the eagle's head through the window.

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  • Title: Opening the Fourth Seal; The Fourth Horseman
  • Date Created: about 1255 - 1260
  • Location Created: London (probably), England
  • Physical Dimensions: w22.5 x h31.9 cm
  • Type: Folio
  • Rights: http://www.getty.edu/legal/copyright.html
  • External Link: http://www.getty.edu/art/gettyguide/artObjectDetails?artobj=3335
  • Medium: "Tempera colors, gold leaf, colored washes, pen and ink on parchment"
  • illuminator: Unknown
  • Terms of Use: http://www.getty.edu/legal/copyright.html
  • Subject: Eagles, Horses, Saint John the Evangelist, Creatures


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