Judgement of the Souls

  • Judgement of the Souls

    Judgement of the Souls

    Unknown Portuguese master - Inv. 71 Pint

The composition of this large painting marks a return to the description of the Last Judgement of the Book of Revelations (the Apocalypse of St. John), but with interesting narrative and iconographic innovations. The souls lifted up from the world of the dead, in the lower right corner, ascend to a kind of platform in a narrative movement that has been compared to a theatrical representation of the liturgical ceremony. Arriving there, they are judged and their fate is decided upon: they are either thrown into hell, on the left, or they head upwards to Glory, where they are welcomed into the Celestial Court.

A large Renaissance portico, displaying the figures of the Virtues, marks the gateway to this world of the chosen ones. It is also particularly interesting to note that the traditional psychostasia (or the weighing of the souls) has been replaced here by a group of accountants sitting in judgement of the actions of the souls, which are reviewed in the ledgers of demons and angels.