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Hans Memling
The Last Judgment
Oil on panel : 242 X 360 cm
Gdansk, National Museum

Memling made this painting between 1467 and 1471in Bruges for Angelo Tani, an Italian banker, agent of the de Medici family in Bruges. During its transport to Fiesole, next to Florence, in 1473 it was stolen by privateers from Gdansk.
 


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Painting for Sale
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Anonymous late 16th century N. Italian painter from Lombardy
In short
 
This fine North Italian devotional painting represents the Last Judgment: the day for Chris’s perfect justice, when each soul is reunited with its body and when they are definitively send either to heaven or to hell.
 
In the left foreground stands the man who commissioned this painting. Next to him his name saint, St Anthony the Abbot.
 
About our painting
 
In the left foreground is portrayed the man who commissioned this painting, Antonio di Bovonio, as a repentant sinner with his patron saint, St. Anthony the Abbot.
 
Above them two angels and a third one at right announce the Last Judgment by sounding a trumpet.
 
Christ stands in the centre on clouds in front of a rainbow.
With his right hand he blesses the saved, who enter the gate of heaven, with his left hand he curses the damned who go to hell through the open mouth of a monster. 
These two gestures are emphasized by the appropriate symbols for the Last Judgment, the lily and the blazing sword on either side of his head. 
 
In front of Jesus Mary is kneeling to implore his mercy for mankind.
Christ is surrounded by the four evangelists: John with his eagle, Luke with the bull, Mark with the Lion and behind Mary Matthew holding the Bible with an angel.
At the top right an angel carries the cross, one of the symbols of Jesus’ Passion. Just under that angel St John the Baptist is holding the Bible.
Saints, such as King David and Moses, sit in heaven.
 
At the centre of the composition Archangel Michael holds a balance to weigh the souls. Under his feet the dead are coming out of their tombs.
 
About the Last Judgment
 
Catholics believe that after death each soul undergoes a particular judgment. After the resurrection of the dead, when each soul and body are to be reunited, comes the time of the Last Judgment, a time for Christ’s perfect justice. Then those we were in purgatory will also go to heaven, the others will remain where they already were (either heaven or hell). After the Last Judgment the universe will renew itself with a new heaven and a new earth.
 
The Last Judgment was a favourite subject of Medieval and Renaissance artists, the most famous representations being that by Michelangelo in the Sistine Chapel at the Vatican in Rome and the polyptych by Rogier van der Weyden in l’Hôtel-Dieu in Beaune. 
 
About Saint Anthony the Abbot
 
Saint Anthony was born circa 251 in Egypt. We know his life fairly well, thanks to the biography written by his disciple Athanasius.
 
Round the age of 20 he started a life full of want as a hermit becoming the most famous monk of ancient Christendom. He was a noble example of an ascetic life of austerity, sacrifice and extreme solitude. 
 
The first 35 years he lived retired into solitude in a grotto next to his birthplace, the following 20 years on a mountain on the other bank of the Nile and finally in a community of hermits in an oasis in the desert.
Though he led a hard life, full of deprivation, Anthony was very long-lived: death (which he had predicted) took him at the age of 105, on the 17th of January 355 (or 356).
 
Saint Anthony became a model for the denial of vice, specifically pleasures of the flesh. During his isolation he had to fight temptation by the devil under different forms.
 
Saint Antony the Abbot is usually depicted with a pig.
The Hospitallers of St Anthony healed people with skin diseases, especially those afflicted with St. Anthony’s fire, an inflammation of the skin due to ergot poisoning. They supported their charities by raising swines; they were the only ones who were authorised to keep pigs within the walls of the towns.
 
Saint Anthony was also said to have had a pig that warned him of the hours of the day that he had to pray.
 
Why should you buy this painting?
 
Because it is a fine example of a late 16th century devotional painting. 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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