West Facade, South Portal--Tympanum: Last Judgment and jamb statues: Wise and Foolish Virgins, Strasbourg Cathedral

Gothic (date?)

The doorways of the western (main facade) are richly carved. The life of Christ--His childhood and His Passion--and the Last Judgment are depicted in the three tympana. (Sorry--the central doorway was behind scaffolding when I was there.) The south portal (right) tympanum depicts the Last Judgment.

The South Portal Tympanum: The Last Judgment; detail of the signs of the zodiac and related Labors of the Months on the jamb statue pedestals

The Last Judgment

In the top register, angels sound the horns and hold the instruments of Christ's Passion; below the Chosen and the Damned are pictured; and on the lowest register, the souls rise from their tombs.


The Foolish Virgins

The parable of the wise and foolish virgin (Matthew 25:1-13) is often associated with medieval representations of the Last Judgment since the parable is usually read as a warning to be prepared for the Second Coming.

The seducer on the left (an iconographic innovation) smilingly offers an apple. Although he is handsome, his back is crawling with hideous reptiles. The virgin near him has dropped her lamp and seems to be ready to unfasten her garment as she grins stupidly. The other two foolish virgins are about to drop their lamps as well.

The Wise Virgins

The bridegroom on the left (Christ) contrasts with the seducer on the opposite side of the portal. Here the wise virgins, with refined Classical beauty, are stiffly erect and safely clasp their lamps.

See also South Transept sculptures: Church and Synagogue / South Transept: The Dormition and Coronation of the Virgin, portal tympana, and Solomon / Western Facade, North Portal: The Life of Jesus, tympanum, and the Virtues Vanquishing the Vices, jamb statues.

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