The Hours of Jean de Montauban

The Hours of Jean de Montauban The Penitential Psalms. Resurrection of the Dead and the Last Judgement, f. 76v-77r

The Penitential Psalms. Resurrection of the Dead and the Last Judgement, f. 76v-77r

Page 77r of the Hours of Jean de Montauban is one of three exceptions, with folios 127r and 128r, being without the habitual flowers and instead filled with images. Its composition is complex and erudite, entirely dedicated to the representation of the end of the world, of the resurrection of the dead, of the particular judgement of the soul after death, and of the general judgement of the living and dead.

Over all these aspects of judgement presides the haloed Christ adored by eight seraphim and surrounded by a sumptuous shining aureole. He is wearing the crown of thorns and is cloaked in a pink mantle with pale blue lining, leaving his torso, hands, and feet open to view, with their five bleeding wounds. From his mouth two swords rise and from his hands come two scrolls on which are inscribed the words that will be said, according to Saint Matthew, by the Son of Man when he shall come in his glory. The one on his right invites those blessed by the Father to heaven, in the direction of the raised hand, 'Come, ye blessed of my Father, possess you the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world' (Matt. 25:34), and that on his left condemns the wicked to hell, in the direction suggested by his left arm, 'Depart from me, you cursed, into everlasting fire, which was prepared for the devil and his angels' (Matt. 25:41). The Son of Man sits on a rainbow with his feet on the globe of the world. On the left the Virgin and on the right John the Baptist are kneeling in the position of intercessors. The Resurrection of the dead on the Final Day is evoked at the bottom of this painted compartment, with in one part those chosen already kneeling with their hands raised in adoration and in the other the bleeding damned falling immediately into their respective tombs, thus excluded from life eternal.

At the top, present at this end of the world, are the grades of the angelic hierarchy, on the left a red archangel and on the right three other blue archangels. The chosen are then divided into three tightly pressed groups, consisting of people who are all kneeling. On the left at the top, an angel with blue wings carrying a staff surmounted by a cross guides a first group, seemingly mostly women, all naked, some wearing royal crowns. Next comes again a crowd of women, dressed and kneeling, with at their head three wearing crowns, and also two saints with haloes. On the other side, under the archangels in deep blue, is another compact crowd with male figures, all with haloes; these are therefore the saints who were present at the participation of Mary and John the Baptist in the last Judgement and supported their intercession. The Dove of the Holy Spirit in glory appears next, placed within the capital D of the prayer Domine ne in furore tuo arguas me, neque in ira tua corripias me ('O Lord, rebuke me not in thy indignation, not chastise me in thy wrath', from Psalm 6:2, which is counted among the penitential psalms).

At the foot of the page, on the right, the damned meet what awaits them, to be cast into and engulfed for evermore in the open, flaming mouth of hell under the control of an army of demons. The illuminator portrays some specific ordeals, such as being hung above the flames, or precipitated into a boiling liquid, where they pile up without any hope of coming to the end of the ordeal without the active intercession of the saints. The latter appear above these scenes and could allow certain sinners to escape in extremis. This is the case of the white figures in the lower left corner, next to Saint Peter and his monumental keys - a battalion of those saved at the last minute, welcomed by four angels, with one last sinner being pursued by a demon whom he only just seems to escape.

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