To Hell with the Theologians: Doctrines of Damnation in “Last Judgements” in the Medieval Latin West
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One of the prolific images from the later Middle Ages is the last judgement. Depictions occurred in sculpture, on canvas, in fresco, and in manuscript illuminations. The spectre of a final cosmic reckoning reflects widespread medieval social anxieties as well as traditional and official church teaching. Images of hell, damnation, torture, and punishment are especially evident in the haunting visual work of Taddeo di Bartolo, in the Albi Cathedral, in Bosch and Michelangelo, and in numerous literary texts including the Apocalypse of Peter and Dante. The consequences of sin, sexual transgression, and other miscreant behaviour are brought to summation in the last judgement where theology, religious practice, and social anxiety are displayed vividly and publicly.