MEDIEVAL SCULPTOR, German
(active in 1225-1237)

Last Judgment

1225-37
Stone
Cathedral, Bamberg

Bamberg Cathedral was one of the most important cathedral building projects to be undertaken in Germany in the early 13th century. Its extensive figurative ornamentation was probably begun in the 1220s and it must have been virtually complete by the time of the rededication of the cathedral in 1237.

While the tympanum of the Portal of Mercy is still composed largely in the idiom of the late Romanesque, the tympanum of the Princes' Portal is of a wholly different character. All the events of the Last Judgment take place on a single level immediately above the lintel, which rises so far into the tympanum that it is like a stage. In the centre, Christ is depicted sitting on a column and showing his wounds, accompanied on his right by angels with the instruments of the Passion. The Virgin and St John, as intercessors, touch his feet. Between them two of the Blessed emerge laughing and naked from their graves. At the sides, the groups of the Blessed and the Damned are portrayed in an extraordinarily lively manner. The highly expressive manner of conveying feelings through facial expression had not appeared previously in German sculpture.

The picture shows the tympanum of the Princes' Portal.