Iconography analysis of the representations of the Last Judgement in late medieval France
Ho, Sau Fong
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The aim of this thesis is to analyse the iconographic elements in large-scale representations of the Last Judgement in late medieval France, c. 1380 – c. 1520. The study begins by examining the sudden surge of the subject in question that occurred in the second half of the fifteenth century and its iconographic evolution across geographical regions in France. Numerous depictions of the Last Judgement and iconographic differences have prompted speculation concerning its role in society. The basis of the study is grounded on the findings from the comparative and functional analysis on different decorative cycles and the placement of a painting within a religious building gathered in the catalogue. Special attention is given to the interrelationship between patronage and the subject of devotion, providing background to the study. As such, smallscale Last Judgement images including illuminated manuscripts, decorative artwork and collectible items dated within and around the period in question are included in the study in order to provide an overview of the visual context. New observations and interpretations are made with reference to available textual sources, both religious and pseudo-religious, medieval chronicles, historical documents and eyewitness accounts. Placed against the religious and historical backdrop, these visual differences in the Last Judgement provide evidence of a twofold purpose. On the one hand, it served as an instructive purpose for believers in affecting salvation, and, on the other, it also functions as demonstrative proof to enunciate the Church’s spiritual authority. The thesis contributes to current scholarship by providing new insights into religious expression associated with the devotion of Christian believers in medieval life.