The Last Judgement - 1897

 The Last Judgement, completed in 1897, is viewed to be the finest example of Burne-Jones’ work in stained glass. It displays the return of Christ and his judgement on humanity. 

 

The window was a memorial to the Bishop Bowlby of Coventry who was Rector of St Philip's from 1875 to 1802. Christ is surrounded by a mass of angels, as in the Ascension window; their vibrant red wings and draperies fill the top half of the window with bold red colour. As in the Crucifixion window, Christ wears a crown of thorns and the stigmata, the marks of the nails from the cross, are evident on his hand which is raised in blessing. He is sitting on a delicate rainbow which can be glimpsed behind the figure of Christ; beneath the rainbow is a wash of blue tones creating a watery sky. 
 

The Archangel Michael is in the centre of the composition blowing a trumpet which marks the end of the world. Below the feet of the angels is a contemporary city – the dark, murky buildings are collapsing and appears to be breaking apart and the highly fragmented section is one of chaos. As in the previous windows, a section divides the upper and lower halves of the window. Below the city, the risen dead stand on graves, with figures in the process of emerging and rising up from the ground. Many figures look up to the heavenly realms with expressions of distress and confusion, a small child grips his parent’s cloak, and some shield their eyes from the light. Burne-Jones has overlapped the many figures creating the impression of a great crowd of people, all waiting in apprehension at the end of time.

 

He has included meticulous details such as the elaborate gold crown worn by the figure clothed in red on the right of the window. The angels hold a range of beautifully intricate objects such as the leather-bound Book of Judgement and the key to the gates of heaven. Artistic depictions of the Last Judgement commonly display scenes of terror, here, the artist has designed a more compassionate account.

2017 Divine Beauty 

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