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The Judgment Day
11.75" x 9"
Gouache on paper
1927

Artist Aaron Douglas created three images that are illustrations for the book of poems by James Weldon Johnson titled God’s Trombones: Seven Negro Sermons in Verse. He rendered each piece with a flatly painted, hard-edged style reminiscent of the angularity found in some types of historical African sculpture. In these poems, Johnson draws on the rhythms and pacing of an African American minister preaching to the congregation.

The Judgment Day refers to life after death and how, on the day of judgment, the souls of the living and the dead will be either condemned or redeemed based on their behavior during earthly life. A winged angel, Gabriel, blows a trumpet with "one foot on the mountain top" and the other "in the middle of the sea." Holding a key to the kingdom of heaven in his left hand, Gabriel blows his horn to "wake" the living nations.

 From the Detroit Institute of Arts' exhibition of selections from the Walter O. Evans Collection (2006).