The Opening of the First Seal: The First Horseman

Unknownabout 1255–1260

The J. Paul Getty Museum

The J. Paul Getty Museum
Los Angeles, United States

The opening of the first four seals of the book reveals to Saint John the four horsemen of the Apocalypse. The horsemen are traditionally associated with the four major afflictions of humankind: war, civil strife, famine, and death. The devastation they inflict is seen as a prelude to the end of the world.

When the lamb opens the first seal on the book, the living creature with the face like a man, shown here emerging from a cloud, takes Saint John by the wrist, urging him forward to see the first horseman who represents war. "And I saw: and behold a white horse, and he who sat on it had a bow, and a crown was given to him, and he went forth conquering in order that he might conquer." (Apocalypse 6:2)


  • Title: The Opening of the First Seal: The First Horseman
  • Creator: Unknown
  • Date Created: about 1255–1260
  • Location Created: London (probably), England
  • Physical Dimensions: Leaf: 31.9 × 22.5 cm (12 9/16 × 8 7/8 in.)
  • Type: Folio
  • External Link: Find out more about this object on the Museum website.
  • Medium: Tempera colors, gold leaf, colored washes, pen and ink on parchment
  • Terms of Use: Open Content
  • Number: 83.MC.72.6
  • Culture: English
  • Credit Line: The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, Ms. Ludwig III 1, fol. 6
  • Creator Display Name: Unknown
  • Classification: Manuscripts (Documents)

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