Discuss how the idea of the Apocalypse has impacted upon the work of artists of your choice

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Discuss how the idea of the Apocalypse has impacted upon the work of artists of your choice

For this essay there will be an examination into Giotto’s ‘The Last Judgement’ (1304-1305), which is a Fresco within the Arena Chapel and Michelangelo’s ‘The Last Judgement’ (1537-1541) also a Fresco, which is on the Alter wall in the Sistine Chapel. This is in the interest of establishing how two artists have tackled the same subject matter and their relation with the book of Revelation. At the end of this there is an expectancy of understanding toward why this scene is so important to the Church?

Revelation is the last book in the bible of the New Testament, it was written around 65 AD by the Apostle John but there are some suggestions that it could have been around 95 AD. This book was written in address to the seven Churches that are mentioned in Chapters 2 and 3 with the intention of being read out to the congregation. The whole point of this book is to scare but encourage the Churches in their trust to God and how they follow by his rule. What's more this is the only book in the bible that gives the reader an insight into heaven, this place that people of faith attain to arrive at gets revealed. It can also provide a sense of purpose to the reader of the bible.

There are various arguments as to whether John the Apostle who wrote other books in the New Testament was the same as the John of Patmos who wrote the book of revelations. Dionysius, Pope of Alexandria from 248 AD until 265 AD, believed that Revelation was written by John the Presbyter. He attained this from the writing styles and how it differs in previous works. What’s more John names himself in Revelation which he had not done so before. This book is believed to have been written whilst he was in exile, possibly due to his faith, on the island of Patmos. What is being written about are from visions which is not like a chronological story so there must be some room of error for it being less formal than his other work. If Revelation was written in 65 AD, his previous works were done 85-90 AD and so he would not have established a more formal method of writing being as this would have been his first book.

John was in the era of great Roman domination, where wealth and power were flowing to more than just the Emperor and the Aristocrats. Along with this Rome was looking for solutions to problems through each other instead of the Gods and so over time Emperors demanded to be worshipped like Gods themselves. This can be picked up on when he addresses the churches and how they have been worshipping.

Revelation 2:14

In address to the Church of Pergamos

“But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication.”


The teachings of Balaam are to do with the Christians who take part in worshipping false Gods. Followers should either be looking to God or not at all, like the martyr Antipas who was killed for staying true to his beliefs. The main interest in the book of Revelation is to do with the Last Judgement, chapter 20, as this is the subject matter for the frescoes being discussed here. To begin in Revelations 20 the angel binds the devil for a thousand years in the bottomless pit; John then goes on about heaven and what he saw. How the souls who died for God are sat upon thrones and they shall reign with God for the thousand years of peace. Rev. 20:7 tells how Satan is released and war between heaven and hell ends by God sending Satan to the lake of fire and brimstone for all eternity. Once this has occurred God opens the book of life and judges all the dead. The ones that are not written in the book get sent down to the lake of fire with Satan.

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Rev. 20: 11-15 is what has been painted in Giotto’s and Michelangelo’s frescos. It is called ‘The Last Judgement’ due to the literal sense of the title itself. There are other judgments that have happened within the bible i.e. Adam and Eve being thrown out of Eden. Here though every single persons deed is before God and is to be judged, they will either go to heaven or be sent down to Satan and that will be final. From examining the Chapter it is no wonder that this would be of great fascination to a believer and cause an ...

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