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Current time:0:00Total duration:5:41

Video transcript

we're in the town of bone in the hotel deer in a very dark room where they've moved the altarpiece by Roger Vander Heiden of the Last Judgement now this originally stood in the hospital where the sick would be cared for and they could look through a screen during Mass and see this altarpiece a really appropriate subject for those who were ill and who were many of them near death right one went to the hospital to die at least in the 15th century you did know this was a hospital commissioned by the chancellor for the Duke of Burgundy this is a very powerful position he was in a sense a lawyer and it's appropriate than the subject of this panel not on the outside but when we open it up and we are confronted with this magnificent interior and rulon commissioned this entire building and this Politico Roger Vander Heiden in the hope that it would gain him his own salvation right now we're looking at the back of the altarpiece or what you would have seen when the altar was closed it's interesting cuz the outside the exterior is really the worldly it is our world the exterior shows six panels at the top we have the Annunciation we see the Archangel Gabriel on the Left we see the Virgin Mary interrupted in her prayer on the right the moment when God is made flesh when salvation becomes possible for mankind and below that to Griz eye or painted in gray images of saints on the left st. Sebastian and on the rights and Anthony both associated with healing and illness and then on the outer panels we actually see the patrons we see Roulin on the left and his wife on the right in both cases there are angels and back of them that hold their respective coats of arms and the figures are painted with a exactitude that we see in the Northern Renaissance we get a sense of this exactly what Nicholas really looks like when the panel's are opened we have a painting that is 18 feet wide and we have the top Christ in majesty Christ as judge seated on a rainbow and what's so wonderful is that he's actually seated on it his knees are foreshortened in come towards us seems to balance although his feet are on a beautifully rendered golden orb which has bejeweled a symbol of power now below Christ who is the ultimate judge of heaven of them remember that rule an is a kind of lawyer and so this notion of justice is very much a part of his life and we see another rendering of justice just below Christ we see the Archangel Michael who's beautifully rendered in white with wings that seem to be the wings of peacocks and see him holding this magnificent scale in the bowls of that scale we see naked figures those are meant to represent souls and we see that the soul on our right is heavier he's weighed down by sin and so this man is going to hell and on our left we see Michael holding a figure who is blessed who is going to heaven who's lighter and so that extends to the left and the right on the left those who are sizing up toward heaven and on the right the Damned who move toward the right corner toward the fires of hell it's interesting there's nothing that's compelling those figures to go to hell but they seem to in their terror run towards that fiery abyss although some of them do seem to be being pulled by their hair into the fires of hell they're screaming as they go whereas on the left we see a representation of the gate of heaven and we see an angel perhaps Michael again who's escorting the Blessed into the kingdom of God what we really notice is the frontality of Michael and of Christ that sense that there is no bargaining here this is justice it's being meted out there's no wavering no discussion one is either on Christ's right as the Blessed or on Christ left as the Damned there are more Damned than blessed it's interesting this northern style of precision of exactitude in the rendering of the physical that is so much a part of the work of Roger van der Weiden plays into that idea of the saluté nesting is verified through its visual accuracy that's made even more clear by that heavenly gold background well it's interesting because so often in early painting we see a gold background we see the light of heaven but it tends to be a flat background but here it's clouds with volume and it almost seems like the fiery colors of a sunset then the clouds of the sky and so we have this heavenly light yes but it's also in some ways more of the natural world as well on either side of Michael we see for smaller angels in this beautiful purplish red and they're blowing their golden trumpets announcing the end of time but also waking the dead on either side of Christ are also symbols of what's happening here on our left Christ's right with the Blessed the lilies a symbol of mercy and then on our right or Christ's left the sword of justice Christ is neither looking left nor right he looks directly out at us judging us on the other hand he also makes a gesture of blessing he looks out at us but there's also something reassuring only if you're looking to his right hand but if you look to his left he seems to also be condemning the Damned into hell and we can clearly see Christ's wounds on his feet his own suffering for the sins of mankind you