WEYDEN, Rogier van der
(b. 1400, Tournai, d. 1464, Bruxelles)
The Last Judgment (detail)1446-52
Oil on wood
Musée de l'Hôtel-Dieu, Beaune
The central panel is dominated by the son of God, seated on a semi-circular rainbow, with the Virgin Mary at one end of the arc and St John the Baptist at the other. Christ's feet rest on a sphere, symbol of the universe. With his right hand, he blesses those who are saved and with his left curses those who are damned. These two gestures are emphasized by appropriate emblems, respectively, a lily and a blazing sword. Beneath Christ stands St Michael, prince of the heavenly hosts. He is pictured as young, because he is immortal and as handsome, because he is the embodiment of divine justice. He holds in his hands a scale in which he weighs souls. The souls are represented by two little naked figures, whose names are "Virtutes" and "Peccata". The former kneels, overcome with delight, while the latter seems horrified and screams with terror.