(4) Josef Stammel, The Four Last Things: Heaven
The conceptual highpoint of ‘The Four Last Things’ is the allegory of Heaven. Heaven is represented by the epitome of attractiveness magnificently clothed and jewelled and accompanied by several supporter figures.
Dressed as a crowned bride in the vestments of heavenly magnificence, this androgynous figure is being lifted up to Heaven by a slender angel. The figure’s transfigured gaze is directed away from the earthly observer into the higher spheres. In the elevated left hand, there is a heart to represent the unshakeable nature of the figure’s faith. In the aureole over the head is the symbol of the Holy Trinity. The figure bears a flaming star and richly decorated cross on its breast. Below the crown on the figure’s forehead is the Greek letter ‘T’ (Tau), showing that the figure is one of the just (Ezekiel 9, 3 -4).
As in the case of Bernini, the ‘Anima Beata’ represents the counterpart to the ‘Anima Damnata’ in Hell. At the foot of the figure are seated three putti on a cloud bank. These allegories of three virtues (fasting, prayer and charity) explain the judgement of Heaven’s court and contrast with the vices represented in the Hell sculpture. Here again there is a circular serpent but this time it has a positive meaning as a symbol of eternal bliss; it is being held by the putto seated in the centre of the cloud bank.