Last Judgment

Iconography:  Last Judgment

Date: XVIII century. The late 17th – early 18th centuries (1714 ?).

Icon-painter: Aleksandr Kazantsev (?)

Origin: From the Annunciation Convent in Murom.

Material: Wood, tempera

Dimensions:  height 193 cm, width 203 cm

The central image of Christ the Judge in a halo descending from heavens on the rainbow is located up in the middle of the second register of the composition. He is blessing with his right hand and holds a sword with his left. In the lower part of the icon are the praying figures of the Mother of God and John the Baptist, Adam and Eve falling down before Christ. In the same register are twelve apostles seated on the thrones with open books – by six from each side – and two groups of “fiery” angels standing behind them. In the lower part is the image of the Throne, prepared for the Final Judgment, on which lies Christ’s robe and a closed Gospel book on it. At the foot of the throne stands a vessel filled, according to legend, with Christ’s blood. On either side of the throne are the righteous (right) and the sinners (left) rising to the Judgment. The righteous are represented in two rows, ranked in order of their holiness: prophets, kings and princes, martyrs (at the top), the saints, the venerable and holy women and female martyrs (at the bottom). The groups of sinners in exotic clothes represent different nations rising to the Judgment. In the forefront Moses holds a Jew by the beard. The Jews are dressed in dark clothes and red cloaks, with white headscarves on the heads. The Greeks are dressed in diverse garments (crowns, pointed hats, klobuks). The Russians are depicted bare-headed, wearing luxury fur-coats and cloaks, some of them encircled with a girdle. Interestingly, the Poles distinguish themselves from the Russians only by the headwear, while the Germans look like musketeers. The next register, under the throne, represents a hand holding the innocent souls in the form of naked infants in a heavenly semi-circle. The hand holds the scales weighing the human souls. Under the scales is a series of the compositions depicting a battle between the angels and the demons for the human souls, and the division into the righteous and the sinners. On the balance pan is a demon being run through with a spear by an angel. Under it is depicted another angel with a spear and two fighting demons. The same register represents the resurrection of the dead and the vision of the Prophet Daniel. To the right, under the sinners rising to the Final Judgment is a circle inside which are allegorical images of the Earth and the Sea giving away the dead. The Earth holds with both hands above the head a tomb with the risen dead. Symmetrically around the circle are the figures of four birds and three animals carrying the parts of the human bodies in their yawns. The trumpeting angels calling the living and the dead to the Final Judgment, traditionally depicted in the four ends of the Earth, are shown in the upper register of the composition. The next circle shows the vision of the Prophet Daniel – the allegorical images of the four beast kingdoms, to be succeeded by the Kingdom of the God. The kingdoms of Babylon, Persia, Greece and Rome are represented, respectively, in the form of a four-headed dragon (instead of a lion), a bear, a winged panther and unicorn (instead of an animal with ten horns). The figures of the Prophet Daniel and the angel are shown in a circle, alongside the picture of paradise. In the bottom part of the icon are the traditional images of paradise and hell. The Mother of God is shown enthroned between the angels in the Garden of Eden. Above her are two flying angels carrying to paradise two innocent souls in the form of naked infants. Below is the bosom of Abraham, the Wise Thief, the Gates of Paradise with the cherub and the scene of the procession of the righteous walking to paradise. The procession is led by Peter and Paul. They are followed by the saints, prophets, martyrs and female martyrs (above), the blessed and holy women (in the bottom) and the saint kings. Above the heads of the righteous hover the angels putting crowns on their heads. To the right is Gehenna with Satan seated on a beast and holding in his hand the soul of Judas. To the left of Gehenna is a cave with a patriarch hanging on the chains and a group of sinners being led to hell. Below are eight more caves with the scenes of torturing. Between paradise and hell stands the “charitable fornicator” bound to a pillar. According to legend, he was deprived of paradise because of fornication but was spared infernal torment for the acts of grace. Next to him is an angel pointing to paradise with his raised hand. Among unique iconographic motifs that appeared only in the late medieval Russian iconography is the serpent rising from the yawns of hell to Adam’s feet. The serpent is covered with nineteen circles allegorically depicting the torments the human soul has to go through before getting to the Kingdom of God. The upper register represents a composition entitled The Sending to the Judgment. To the right, in a circle, seated on the throne, is God the Father in an eight-pointed nimbus and white clothes; next to Him is the Holy Spirit depicted as a pigeon enclosed by the octangle. God the Father is blessing Christ standing before him in an oval mandorla. To the left, in the centerpiece, is the depiction of the Golgotha Cross with the attending angels, with another image of God the Father seated on the throne with the Holy Spirit, surrounded by the Nine Choirs of Angels in the circles. On the throne, next to God the Father, is a seat reserved for Jesus Christ. Below are four half-figures of the trumpeting angels announcing the Resurrection and the coming of the Final Judgment. In the same register, to the left, is the depiction of the Heavenly Jerusalem as a town surrounded by walls with towers and five gates with the figures of the fiery cherub inside. Inside, behind the eight thrones, are the saints ranked in hierarchical order – the saints, apostles, female martyrs, reverend women (at the top); the prophets, martyrs, the reverends, hermitages. At the opposite side, in the right upper corner, are the angels rolling skies into a scroll. Along the left icon border are seven figures of the winged monks ascending to the Heavenly Jerusalem on the “fiery wings”. These are St. Sabbas the Sanctified, St. Macarius the Great, St. John of the Ladder, King Abner, prince Josaphat, St. John Kolovos and the blessed Dionysius. Symmetrically to the ascent of the monks, along the right icon border, is the downfall of the fallen angels from the skies. The Archangel Michael who is casting down the angels is shown wearing clerical clothes. Two other angels are shown wearing the traditional dalmatics and cloaks. 

Deposited in the Murom Museum on June 29, 1941. Restored in 1945 in the Murom Museum by I.I.Tyulin. 

  • General view