Fran Angelico:  ‘The Last Judgment’ (detail)

The Last Judgment (detail: “Paradise”) by Fra Angelico, tempera on panel, 1425–1430, San Marco, Florence. Large format retrieved from imgkid.com

The representation is faithful to artistic tradition. In the highest part the Saviour calls the elect to Him with His right hand, while with His left He motions away the reprobate: around Him are eight winged cherubim, with whom kneeling angels below join to form a circle. Some are adoring or praying, others hold scrolls in their hands. On the right sits the Virgin in white robes, with hands crossed on her breast and head gently bent: on the left St. John Baptist with hands clasped in prayer. At the sides Patriarchs, Apostles and Prophets, and at the extremities St. Dominic and St. Francis. An angel holds the cross at the feet of Christ, and two others flying, blow their trumpets towards the dead, who rise from the open sepulchres below.
In the base at the [right], demons drag the damned ones to Hell; on the [left] the elect cast glances of love and faith on the Saviour, and in joyous fraternity enjoy the heavenly guerdon. The Elysian Fields of the blessed are truly celestial, gleaming with gold, irrigated by limpid streams, glorious with beautiful flowerets that bloom amid the verdure, the exuberance of nature harmonizing marvelously with the joy of the elect. (Fra Angelico, by J. B. Supino, tr. Leader Scott, Florence: Alinari Brothers, 1902, pp. 78-79)

The dance of the blessed depicted in the detail view above was also called the the caròla:

The caròla was a kind of sacred dance, in which the dancers holding hands move in a circle, singing as they go. It was supposed to be the dance of Paradise. (Ibid., translator’s note).

The author of that book on the art of Fra Angelico suggests that the depiction of the dance brings to mind “verses of a sacred laud”:


Una rota si fa in cielo
De tutti i Santi in quel zardino,
Là ove sta l’amor divino
Che s’infiamma de l’amore.

In quella rota vano i Santi
Et li Angioli tutti quanti;
A quello Sposo van davanti:
Tutti danzan per amore.

In Paradise that garden lies
Where love divine eternal shines,
And holy Saints carolas weave,
Their souls inflamed with sacred love.

The Saints in that bright joyous ring,
With Angels fair of all degrees,
Before the Bridegroom graceful move
And weave the dance of sacred love.

 ‘The Last Judgment’ (complete painting) by Fra Angelico, tempera on panel, 1425–1430, San Marco, Florence. Large format retrieved from Wikimedia Commons. Public domain.
‘The Last Judgment’ (complete painting) by Fra Angelico, tempera on panel, 1425–1430, San Marco, Florence. Large format retrieved from Wikimedia Commons. Public domain.
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