The Founder of the Red Cross Creates a Diagram of the Apocalypse (1887)

His­to­ry remem­bers Hen­ry Dunant (1828–1910) for two things–being the co-founder of the Red Cross move­ment and win­ning the first Nobel Peace Prize in 1901.

Less well known is his dia­gram of the Apoc­a­lypse. Between 1877 and 1890, notes the Red Cross Muse­um web­site, Hen­ry Dunant “pro­duced a series of dia­grams reflect­ing his dis­tinc­tive under­stand­ing of humanity’s past and future. Inspired by Chris­t­ian revival­ism, the draw­ings depict a time­line from the Flood of Noah to what Dunant believed was an impend­ing Apoc­a­lypse. The dia­grams fuse mys­ti­cal ref­er­ences with bib­li­cal, his­toric and sci­en­tif­ic events, while also set­ting up a clear oppo­si­tion between Gene­va, as the cen­tre of the Ref­or­ma­tion, and the Catholic Church.”

The image above is the first draw­ing out of a series of four, made with col­ored pen­cils, ink, India ink, wax crayons, and water­col­ors. Writes Messy Nessy, Dunant “spent con­sid­er­able time on the draw­ings, organ­is­ing the sym­bol­ic ele­ments accord­ing to a strict log­ic, mak­ing prepara­to­ry sketch­es and painstak­ing­ly incor­po­rat­ing draw­ings and colour­ings into his chronol­o­gy.” All along, he was dri­ven by the belief that the Apoc­a­lypse was in the off­ing, just a short time way.

Relat­ed Con­tent 

In 1704, Isaac New­ton Pre­dicts the World Will End in 2060

A Sur­vival Guide to the Bib­li­cal Apoc­a­lypse

It’s the End of the World as We Know It: The Apoc­a­lypse Gets Visu­al­ized in an Inven­tive Map from 1486

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