Delve Deeper - Christ in Judgement

The statue of Christ in Judgement (1968), by sculptor Philip Jackson, is positioned in the Retrochoir above the entrance to the Lady Chapel. It replaces a badly damaged Victorian plaster of Christ in Majesty, and is the only sculpture at the Triforium level which does not date back to the 13th century. It follows the practice (begun in the 1960s) of introducing modern religious art into the Cathedral setting.

The statue is made of bronze and is 120 cm. (47") high. The details of the statue are not easily made out from below and so a maquette (small-scale model of the original) is shown in a case at ground level.

The subject of the statue is the final judgement of the world by Jesus. This theme has been popular in art for many centuries. Often this is as a wall painting, where the good are pictured on Jesus' right hand being escorted into Heaven by angels while the wicked on his left are driven by demons towards the fires of Hell.

There are over 60 references to judgement to be found in the Bible (both Old and NewTestament) of which perhaps the most detailed is:

Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken;  then will appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory; and he will send out the angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.

Matthew 29. vv. 29-31

In the Cathedral statue, the figure of Christ, clad in his windblown burial shrouds, leans forward from a simple throne. With his right hand he blesses and draws the gentle and good to himself and with his left hand he holds aloft a sword. Christ's hands and feet are marked with the wounds of the cross, and suspended above his head is a crown of thorns, appearing to us as both a halo and a crown of life symbolic of promise.

The Artist

Philip Jackson, born in 1944, is an award-winning Scottish sculptor, noted for his modern style and emphasis on form. As Royal Sculptor to the Queen, his sculptures appear in numerous UK cities. He was appointed Commander of the Royal Victorian Order (CVO) in the 2009 Birthday Honours.

Philip Jackson describes his art as follows: “My sculptures are essentially an impressionistic rendering of the figure. Where you see the figure seemingly grow out of the ground, the texture resembles tree bark, rock or lava flow. As the eye moves up the sculpture, the finish becomes gentler and more delicately worked, culminating in the hands and the mask, both of which are precisely observed and modelled.”

Another of Jackson's works, the statue of St. Richard of Chichester commissioned for the Millennium, stands outside the main door of the Cathedral.