Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Romanesque: The tympanum of the last judgement

The tympanum of the last judgment , 1107
Church of St. Foy, Conques, France.

Highly influenced by Roman and Byzantine art, Romanesque religious art continued to be art inspired on the lives of the saints and Biblical stories that would narrate the life of Christ. During the Romanesque period the used of high relief was brought back and was stronger and vastly used by artist and sculptors of that time. Stained glass, sculpture, ivory carving and illuminated manuscripts continued to used, other media evolved, like metal work and the use of enamel became very popular to use. Much of the metal work of the time was vastly decorated and had religious subject matter, which perhaps had the same intention that previous art styles and civilizations had sought to achieve when creating a religious piece or building, to create something so magnificent and in heavenly that would show the constant intentions of humans to satisfy God. One popular theme to be represented in relief during this time was "The last judgment", the period when Christ will seat on his throne with all his power to judge the people at the last days. Relief like this one would often be located above the main entrance to the cathedral or church, sometimes related images would be carved into the capitals our in the facade of the church. Oddly shaped figures, demons and dragons can also be seen in the art work above and though the figures represented lack depth, are abstract in nature and unrealistic in physical proportions and features, how abstract and different they are might have caused fear on the believers and might have served as a way to cause a deep impression on the person to see it  and make him ponder about his life and the time when he will have to face Christ. Many relieves like this one, were place with the intention to remind the believers to repent of their ways and be redeemed, the fact that this images was placed above the entrance, served, I believe, as way for the believers to practice for the judgment day, because  the imaged served as a reminder for them to repent before the judgment day and before they entered in to the presence of God, if this is the case then Church or cathedral, which was considered so sacred would be the represented as the presence of God and the relief above the entrance the redemption of the believer.