ANGELICO, Fra
(b. ca. 1400, Vicchio nell Mugello, d. 1455, Roma)

Last Jjudgment

c. 1431
Tempera on panel, 105 x 210 cm
Museo di San Marco, Florence

Elevated in the deep azure sky and surrounded by concentric rings of cherubim and angels, Christ sits on a glowing bank of clouds as he judges the world. He is flanked by the interceding figures of John the Baptist and the Virgin. Rows of saints and prophets, identified by their distinctive attributes, varied expressions and brilliantly coloured mantles, sit suspended on clouds in the heavens. A long row of tombs leads to the distant horizon, bisecting the valley below. To the right of Christ, the Blessed kneel in adoration, their faces radiant with the love of God, as angels dance in a circle in the verdant vegetation of Paradise. Golden rays of light stream through the open gates of the City of God and illuminate the white gowns of the Blessed seeking entry. To Christ's left, demons with pitchforks drive the agonized Damned into the mouth of a mountainous Hell. The ghastly torments that await them are portrayed within its flaming circles, where naked sinners, some strangled with snakes, suffer for their transgressions.

The abundance of figures (270 in all), nuanced evocation of their emotions, descending perspective of the row of tombs and ascending landscape reveal a mastery of narrative and space that was unprecedented in Angelico's small-scale works.

Suggested listening (streaming mp3, 8 minutes):
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Requiem K 626: Dies irae