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(3) Josef Stammel, The Four Last Things: Hell

(3) Josef Stammel, The Four Last Things: Hell

Josef Stammel, "the four last things", the hell, St 03
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Once judged, each soul then passes to Heaven or to Hell as appropriate. The allegory of Hell consists of two forceful main figures and several minor accompanying figures.

Die Stiftsbibliothek b 3A mature and naked man ‒ one of the damned souls ‒ rides on the shoulders of a macabre hybrid creature. It is part animal, part human, part man and part woman. Both figures are surrounded by flames that seem to draw them down into the dragon-headed jaws of Hell. The face of the damned soul expresses both rage and fear. In his raised right hand he holds a serpent that has formed a circle and is biting its own tail ‒ a symbol of eternity. In his left, he grasps a dagger in an attempt to defend himself. A worm bites his breast in the region of the heart.

In the lower part of the sculpture and provided as a warning of the reasons for the descent to Hell are bust-like heads symbolic of the vices: pride wearing a peacock cap and feathers, sloth as a sleeping child wearing a nightcap and with a tiny hippo on his head, avarice with a cap made of coins and a devil peering over his shoulder and gluttony with brandy bottle and sausages.

‘Hell’ is one of the most powerful and eloquent but also most unconventional and complex of the works of Josef Stammel. Images such as that of the Devil in Albrecht Dürer’s engraving ‘Knight, Death and the Devil’ (1513) and Bernini’s marble bust ‘Anima Damnata’ (1616) seem here to have been assimilated and transformed by Stammel’s own imagination into a coherent artistic concept.

Skulpturen und Reliefs in der Stiftsbibliothek Admont

  • Sculptural decoration The sculptural work by Josef Stammel in Admont Abbey library There are 16 sculptures and two large reliefs by Josef Stammel (1695 – 1765) in Admont Abbey library. It is probable that 60 of the total of 68 busts ‒ of scholars, artists, poets, sculptors and muses ‒ that decorate…
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