The Mouth of Hell, as represented as a literal mouth, has appeared in art from the Anglo-Saxon period. On the portal sculptures of Conques and Autun, it is one part of a much larger image of Hell, appearing within an architectural structure. However, in the designs on Chartres and Amiens, the Hellmouth comes to represent Hell itself, with no other scene beyond. In this paper, I will examine how medieval people interacted with this image, through sermons, on stage, and in sculpture. I will be looking at the social function of the Hellmouth, its significance within the medieval imagination, and its place in the hierarchical medieval universe.
The aim of the presentation is to analyse and interpret the way in which the diversity and otherness of the Damned is shown in Latin and Byzantine representations of the Last Judgement. The author would like to present how early medieval art showed the equality between the representatives of secular and ecclesiastical power thrown into hell in the scene of the Last Judgement. The presentation will focus on the unique mosaic complex of the west wall of the Basilica Santa Maria Assunta on Torcello island, near the Venetian Lagoon. Detailed analysis and historical and iconographic interpretation of this work of art was the subject of the author’s doctoral dissertation. The talk will be composed of three main parts. Firstly, the author will present a brief description of the place where the mosaic complex is situated. Torcello, one of the islands of the Venetian Lagoon, was once a very important political and cultural centre, influenced by many different cultures, especially Latin and Byzantine tradition. The main part of the talk will be dedicated to the representation of the Last Judgment from the west wall of the Basilica Santa Maria Assunta, the main church situated on the island. The author will focus on the analysis of a fragment of decoration representing Hell, where there are sinners from various states – church and state dignitaries, monks, kings and queens of the West and the East. They are all tormented in flames and thrown to hell by angels equipped with lances. The author will analyse the scene comparing it to the chosen written sources (biblical, apocryphal, patristic texts). In the last part of the talk the author will present the interpretation of the scene analysing its symbolic meaning and comparing it to the other iconographic representations of the same motive from the same period of time. Without doubt, the scene from Torcello, due to the cultural influences of both Latin and Byzantine tradition, shows a unique iconographic quality that was created to represent important theological truths about the equality of Divine Justice for the representatives of various states.
The architectural elements in the Anglo-Saxon manuscript Junius 11 Genesis are essential to the visual narrative. Even those elements that do not play an important role in the text of the poems, in the images they are very important. They are recast, reformulated, and used as fundamental parts of the visual narrative. It is remarkable that Genesis poem is an original Anglo-Saxon creation. Moreover, in Junius 11, the focus of Genesis is not just on the original sin of Adam and Eve, but also on the rebellion of Lucifer and his followers. Thus, the power materialized as architectural buildings, thrones are fundamental to understanding this narrative. Even though it is impossible identify all the multiple functions and meanings of architectural elements is Junius 11, we choose to work with some categories and stablish some connections between this manuscript and some ideas current at the Anglo-Saxon times and probably influential in the creation, recreation, and recast of architecture images in the artistic creation of the images in Genesis of Junius 11. In this paper, we are going to focus in images and text about hell, aiming to show how important those spatial element are for the narrative, but fundamental part of the visual storytelling.