The Last Judgement/Triumph of Death, Grottes de Abbaye de Brantôme (troglodytic monastery), Périgord vert, Dordogne, France
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A 5 metre high 16th century bas-relief depicting the Crucifixion is in one of the caves located behind the abbey church. It was created next to another relief, a 15th century Last Judgement. Both are vigorously carved in limestone that has been almost completely blackened in parts by moisture.
The Last Judgement is unfinished, however three parts are distinguishable: At the top is a seated God-like figure, next to which is a bent figure on his right, often interpreted as the Virgin, who beseechs him. Below, two kneeling Angels sound long trumpets. Between them is a figure usually interpreted as Death, who appears to be getting the full blast of their trumpets. The lower part represents the Dead, four on the left and four on the right, who supposedly answer the Angels’ call to emerge from their tombs on Judgement Day. Guardian monks kneel on either side of this ensemble. Comparisons have been made between this grouping and the Dances Macabre fashionable in the sixteenth century.
This combination of the Last Judgement with the The Triumph of Death, or alternatively a Legend of the Three Living and the Three Dead, is common across southern Europe at least from the 14th century. Think of the monumental Camposanto frescoes in Pisa attributed to Buonamico Buffalmacco combining, across four gigantic panels The Lives of the Anchorite Monks, The Last Judgement, the Three Living and the Three Dead, and a Satanic Hell scene. The intervening period between these frescoes and the Brantôme bas reliefs saw millions die in a series of plagues caused by the Black Death... continued in comments ...