Durissimum iudicium gentibus profert: On the Production and Circulation of Philippe Thomassin’s Last Judgment (1606)

Ianick Takaes de Oliveira, M.A.

Hitherto largely confined to the boundaries of the European and Mediterranean world, Christian salvation became a truly global affair by the late sixteenth century. Sponsored by the ambitions of the Iberian powers to forge a Christian world-empire, Catholic missionaries spread strange notions about the end time across the continents. To infuse heathens with such eschatological anxieties, they brought along prints such as Philippe Thomassin’s Last Judgment. Produced in Rome in 1606, this eight-plate engraving would serve as a reference for depictions of the doomsday in far flung lands in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, from a humble parroquia in Puebla, New Spain, to the Jesuit missions of Cordoba in the viceroyalty of Peru, and from the opulent Vank Cathedral in Isfahan, the heart of the Safavid Empire, to a Franciscan monastery in Old Goa in Portuguese India.By focusing on Thomassin’s work, my research concerns the production of Last Judgment prints in the Italian Peninsula and their overseas transmission, with an emphasis on the Iberian Americas. I argue that these engravings served the expansionist campaigns of seventeenth-century European nations by helping to carve, at home and abroad, an apocalyptic imaginary vital to the colonial enterprise and its agents.

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