"Ste.-Cecile: The Last Judgement" Top 5 Page for this destination Albi Things to Do Tip by hquittner
Albi Things to Do: 62 reviews and 232 photos
When Bishop Louis I d’Amboise first decided to decorate his church (1480), he immediately realized that the west front was already finished on the outside and did not look like others. He could not use a tympanum to educate and lecture his flock. Somehow (undoubtedly with the help of Cluny) they located a group of painters who created one of the largest pictures ever made on the inner surface of the brick walls of the west end. They did not cover it with plaster and create a fresco but devised materials based upon egg-yolk as both binder and adhesive incorporating ground pigments applied directly to the brick. The mural has the layout of a magnified version of the tympanum of the Last Judgement at Conques (See our Tips there).There appears to be nothing like it elsewhere in the world, and it still is in its original state with very little attempt at repair. The largest disruption to it occurred in the late 17C when the central midsection was removed to provide an entry to the St. Clair Chapel under the belfry. This section contained Archangel Michael with his scales plus Mary and St. John. Nobody knows who the artists were but it is suspected that they were originally trained by Flemish artists in Burgundy. One or more unidentified “Flemish” masters were around such as the Master of Moulins (Jean Hey; see the Rolin Museum in our Autun Tips). Documents say they were French. At any rate the characters have a liveliness and expression very akin to the work of Bosch and van der Weyden (they were never in these parts). The blessings and sins (with details of the tortures) are delineated in the captions. The punishments for the sinners are easy to see. Above the banner on the left is Heaven with 12 white robed Apostles with a crowd of notables (big-shots who made it like Charlemagne). Just below the banner are the Saved with the Book of Life in their hands. Where did the artist(s) get the source iconography? There is nothing but speculation.