Hell's Mouth is a detail from Michelangelo's Last Judgment (fresco 48 x 44 feet) in the Sistine Chapel, Vatican.

Hell's Mouth Within the Last Judgment

In his Last Judgment (1536-41), Michelangelo reserved the space above the altar for his terrifying depiction of Hell's Mouth. Given his views on the corruption of the papacy, it is easy to imagine that he chose to remind church leaders that they are as culpable in their sin as the rest of humankind. Still, the artist is implicit in his illustration of doom, painting only an ominous glow, no flames, and focusing on the intangible but ultimately more painful inner hell of each of the damned. Their tortured movements, contrasted with the glorious freedom of the figures of the select, hold a horrifying appeal.

From hell's horrors to some of the beauty of Michelangelo's divine scenery: his angels. Go to the next page to see details of the angels of the Last Judgment.

To learn more about Michelangelo, art history, and other famous artists, see: