Artworks
The Last Judgment
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cschuster's picture

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You can just hear "Poor Unfortunate Souls" playing in the background of The Last Judgment by Hieronymus Bosch.

This rendition of mankind's final days is only concerned with the damned, and why they deserve to rot in Hell. Bosch's is unique for a Last Judgment work, as it includes the Fall of Man. Most Last Judgments focused on the judging. The judiciousness of God's capital J Justice. Reminding us how big, so absolutely huge, God is. The damned and the saved were given equal consideration. Or, at least the viewer was offered a vision, even just a hint, of what could be expected from a virtuous life. This one is only concerned with why that judgment is necessary. Encouraging us to sing that ancient prayer, "Oh Lord, please don't burn us. Don't kill or toast your flock. Don't put us on your barbecue, or smother us with stock."

From left to right, it's the snuff film version of the Last Judgment. The left panel focuses on our first great sin, eating the apple that God was saving for later or something. The middle panel shows Jesus face-palming over humanity's penchant for the seven deadly sins. Which Bosch translated into lots of people on sticks, cauldrons of poaching corpses, and one particularly unlucky portly fellow to the left who is drinking a perpetual stream of some disgusting stuff. Follow the keg. You'll see what we mean...

No one ever said "go to Hell" and meant it in a nice way. Right panel shows Hell itself. Cities of fire and brimstone rising through the crust of a scorched landscape. Scores of people regretting that time they let it all hang out in Vegas. And the Devil itself. Surrounded by an arc of toads, which were often depicted meting out our eternal torments.

As a triptych, the work was closed throughout most of the year. Parishioners mostly saw the outer panels, which featured a Led Zeppelin-style hunched hermit on the left and a fancy man to the right (these are Sts. James and Bevo, of primary import to pilgrims and the people of Ghent respectively). These panels were painted in grisaille (gray scale), a common practice that helped incorporate the works in their usual surroundings: stone walls. The common folk would only see Bosch's interpretation of the end times as a treat on feast days. Nothing says "Let's party!" like recounting the reasons for our everlasting torment.

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Here is what Wikipedia says about The Last Judgment (Bosch triptych)

The Last Judgment is a triptych by Hieronymus Bosch, created after 1482.

The triptych currently resides at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna, Austria. The outside of the shutters panel are painted in grisaille on panel, while the inside shutters and the center panel are painted in oil. The left and right panels measure 167.7 x 60 cm and the center panel measures 164 x 127 cm. It is not to be confused with either a fragmented piece of art by Bosch under the same title (now at Munich), or another full painting by Bosch, possibly by a painter in his workshop.

The left panel shows the Garden of Eden, at the top God is shown seated in Heaven while the Rebel Angels are cast out of Heaven and transformed into insects. At the foot of the panel, God creates Eve from the rib of Adam. In the midground Eve is tempted by the Serpent, while the couple are finally seen being chased by the Angel into the dark forest, in the central panel where Jesus judges the souls while surrounded by the Saints. The right panel shows a hellscape, where the wicked are punished.

Check out the full Wikipedia article about The Last Judgment (Bosch triptych).

Comments (2)

spurklin targedash

Its all fun and games until Judgement Day...

thinkstuff101

The person in the far right bottom corner does not look comfortable. #uncomfortable