Eschatology in Fine Art

Heidi J. Hornik

in The Oxford Handbook of Eschatology

Published in print December 2007 |
Published online September 2009 | | DOI:

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This article discusses eschatology in fine art, focusing primarily on Christian eschatology during the medieval and Renaissance periods. When one thinks of eschatology in the field of art history, the examples chosen are from this period in Western culture. This article compares several eschatological themes and their changes in respect to history, culture, and changing doctrinal issues. The “four last things” (death, judgment, heaven, and hell) summarize Catholic eschatology today. In the medieval and Renaissance worlds, the beliefs of the Roman Catholic Church dominated the artist's individual eschatology with its concerns about death; particular judgment; heaven, or eternal happiness; purgatory, or the intermediate state; and hell, or eternal punishment. It is logical then that the art of this time period can be divided according to these subject areas: the crucifixion and resurrection, the harrowing of hell, the last judgment with depictions of heaven and hell, scenes from the Book of Revelation, the approach of the end of the world, and the new Jerusalem.

Keywords: Renaissance; eschatology; fine art; history; culture; death; last judgment; heaven; hell; resurrection; particular judgment

Article.  9405 words. 

Subjects: Religion ; Philosophy of Religion ; Religious Subjects in Art

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