VASARI, Giorgio
(b. 1511, Arezzo, d. 1574, Firenze)

The Last Judgment

Duomo, Florence

Domes, which vault the crossing and altar of countless churches, lend themselves well to being transformed into paintings of the sky. The round shape above our heads seems to open onto a higher world, so that God and the things of heaven become visually present at the church holiest spot.

The Last Judgment in the enormous dome of the cathedral in Florence was painted from 1572 onward. Vincenzo Borghini had drawn up a learned theological program as early as 1570, Giorgio Vasari was responsible for executing it, but he died in 1574. Federico Zuccaro completed the frescoes in 1575-79. High up in the fresco in the dome, around the cupola, hovers a temple with the twenty-four elders of the Apocalypse; beneath this, on terraced registers, follow choirs of angels with the instruments of the Passion, then groups of saints, then personifications of the gifts of the Holy SXpirit, of the virtues, and of the beatitudes, and finally the regions of hell with various deadly sins. The composition of the fresco thus takes into account the architectonic form of the vault in its eight sections, hard upon one another. There is no attempt to dissolve the architectural structure completely by means of illusionistic painting.

The temple and the zones of heaven for four of the eight sections of the vault were completed under Vasari's direction.

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