Shakespeare Connected - Discovering the Guild Chapel
Thomas Fisher’s lithograph of the Doom painting
Fisher, T. 1838 Ancient Allegorical, Historical, and Legendary Paintings: in fresco, discovered in ... 1804, on the walls of the chapel of the Trinity, belonging to the Gilde of the Holy Cross, at Stratford-upon-Avon, in Warwickshire, from drawings, made at the time of their discovery, with a description by J.G. Nichols, London: H.G. Bohn
“Up, up, and see. The great doom's image!” (Macbeth. Act 2. Scene 3)
The ‘Doom’ or Last Judgement, depicts Christ in Judgement, seated on a rainbow and flanked by the Virgin and St. John the Baptist, who intercede for the souls of the dead, shown rising from their graves. To Christ’s right, the souls of the saved are welcomed to a Heavenly Jerusalem populated by angels blowing trumpets by St. Peter. To his left, the souls of the damned, several of whom bear labels of the seven deadly sins, are dragged by demons through the grisly mouth of Hell to unspeakable torments beyond.
The Doom was a familiar image in medieval churches, often placed above the chancel arch where it was most visible to the community. Dooms were designed to make people think about the judgement of their soul, and the need for prayers and masses to be said for them after death – one of the most important functions of the medieval guild.
Thomas Fisher was an artist commissioned by the great Antiquary, Richard Gough, to record the Stratford paintings in 1804. A written description of the paintings was also produced by the Stratford-based Antiquarian Robert Bell Wheler at the same time, and his History and Antiquities of Stratford-upon-Avon was published in 1806. Fisher’s drawings were finally published by John Gough Nicols in 1838. They record important details which were lost when the painting was covered over due to its Catholicism, and hidden from view until 1929.
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