Ominous landscape:
“The Last Judgment”

Ludwig Meidner (1884 – 1966)

Painting by Ludwig Meidner, oil on canvas, 100 x 150 cm
© Repro: Kai-Annett Becker, Ludwig Meidner-Archiv, Jüdisches Museum der Stadt Frankfurt am Main

The sombre colours in this oil painting of 1916 convey an apocalyptic mood. Numerous people with fearful expressions cower in a rocky landscape of browns, yellows and greens. Hints of isolated buildings are in the background. The sky is overcast with dark blue, almost black clouds.

The apocalyptic landscapes by Ludwig Meidner (1884–1966) have gone down in art history. Even the artist, in retrospect, thought these powerful images depicting the end of the world were his best works. They show how keenly Meidner sensed disaster in the air before and during the First World War. Between 1912 and 1916 the Berlin Expressionist worked on this series, which ended with “The Last Judgment”.

According to the Bible this is the day when the world ends, when Christ will come to pass verdict on the living and the dead and send them down to Hell or up to Heaven. In Meidner’s apocalyptic vision there is no divine ruler in sight. Thick clouds darken the sky. People cower helplessly in a scene of devastation that undeniably evokes a battlefield. Full of fear these figures turn to us, the viewers, as witnesses to the sinister scene.

The Last Judgement
Oil on canvas
100 x 150 cm
Acquired with funds from the Foundation DKLB, 1980

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