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The hay

Painting, 1515, 135×190 cm

Description of the artwork «The hay»

"The hay" a triptych by Hieronymus Bosch, tricuspid triptych, like an altar, but intended rather for private meditation than for Church use. Some researchers believe "the hay" the first triptych of Bosch's written by (and date it to 1502-m to year). To date, the "hay wagon" is known in two versions, and both are stored in Spain. One of them is represented in the monastery of San Lorenzo in El Escorial1, 2), the other (described here) is in the Prado Museum in Madrid. Probably both belonged to the king Philip II. Prado is Dating his "hay cart" 1515 year. And "hay" from the Palace-monastery of El Escorial was probably not written by Bosch, and one of his followers, 1510-1520.

The outer sash. Strannik (the Wanderer, the Prodigal son)

External doors of the triptych "the hay" represent the picture is bleak, but not fantastic. There is nothing infernal – only the mundane. Tall and skinny stranger wanders without clearly defined objectives. His clothing was worn out, exhausted body, and the forehead wrinkled. Every step of the traveler convinces him that "the world lies in evil". A hungry mangy dog with protruding ribs bares his teeth at him. Next white gnawed bones and a horse's skull, they fly the crows. The hill in the distance crowned by the gallows. In the middle hill of thieves gutting things a passer-by – perhaps the same stranger, and he was tied to a tree. A little farther a farmer and a peasant, surrounded by the herd of sheep mindlessly like mad under the bagpipes: they have no business being near. Even the bridge, which is about to tread the wanderer, does not portend anything good: it is riddled with cracks, and at any time may collapse.

Anyone who is familiar with the works of Bosch, the face of the traveler may seem vaguely familiar. Indeed, this wise sad look and recognizable features are repeated from painting to painting. Many believe (although this and there is no documentary evidence) that this is a self-portrait of Bosch. "His nose can not be attributed to anyone else"– says scientist Nicholas Bohm (on the basis of its research, the BBC made a documentary "the Mysteries of Hieronymus Bosch").

In the Museum of Boymans van Beuningen (Rotterdam) is octagonal painting by Bosch "The prodigal son" the Central character of which is the same stranger with external shutters of the triptych "the hay."

Left wing. The fall (Expulsion of Adam and eve from Paradise)

So, life is a road, long journey, full of temptation and danger. This idea sets up the viewer traveler from the outer side of the triptych. Now let's see what she is supported from the inside when the triptych appears in the clear. Three internal folds called "Expulsion from Paradise""Hay" and "Hell."

Medieval art often combines in the same space different time plans. This principle should be Bosch. On the left wing, he found the place three most important episode of the story of Adam and eve. At the top shows how God the father created eve from the rib of the sleeping Adam in the middle of the snake tempts the first humans to try the fruit from the tree of knowledge in the foreground – the final Paradise of Adam and eve: the angel with the flaming sword chased them from the rocky gates of Paradise.

And over the garden of Eden is incredible on the strength of experience the spectacle of the angels turning into insects raining from the sky. It turns out that not only people are guilty of the sin of pride. The angels also became proud, rebelled and was cast down by the Archangel Michael, leader of heaven's armies. Bosch depicts a monstrous metamorphosis – how angels change their essence: at the top, in the clouds, while the final battle is still angels, but, as the fall, transformirovalsya in insects. Angelic attributes they are only wings. But they will not save: a buzzing swarm singly, dropping into the sea on the horizon and die. Bosch was the first artist in the history of world art, which came to link the two events – the expulsion of the rebellious angels from heaven and the expulsion of the first humans from Paradise.

Edem's interpretation of a social pessimist Bosch is not such a Paradise, even there is no peace, no grace.

The Central part. A hay 

Between Paradise (on the left) and hell (right) is the Central part, which gave the name to the whole triptych – "The hay." This is the image of the earthly world. Picture of the world order by Bosch.

Why for the image of the existing world order Bosch chose such an allegory – a hay? Origins lie in the folklore of the Netherlands, where there is a proverb "The world is a hay-cart, and each trying to grab from him a piece more". A similar image is preserved in folk songs. One of them tells us that God put all things in one pile, just as the villagers raked all the hay in the haystack. This pile is all and should be justly divided at all. However, with human greed, kicking elbows, trying to snatch from the stack bigger. In the pursuit of worldly possessions people don't realize how insignificant they are. After all, hay is a cheap product. In Flemish the word "hooi" at the same time designated and "hay" and "nothing". The chorus of the song plays with this pun, pessimistic reporting: "in the end everything will turn "hooi".

But the characters of Bosch is not stopping. They excitedly rush to the coveted tower. Push each other. Substitute the stairs, pulling spears. Someone dies under the wheels of the wagon. Someone is ready to rip one another's throat. Researchers believe that in this triptych, the number of fights, as depicted by Bosch, more than any other of his paintings.

Avarice (greed, gluttony, greed) is the mother of all vices. She divides the world into rich and poor. In the "hay" Bosch presents all social sections: artisans and peasants, soldiers and monks, scholars and the unlearned, men and women. Behind the carriage follows the cavalcade of the powerful – the Emperor and the Pope (behoved Walter Bosing argues that it is possible to know a particular person is Pope Alexander VI). They do not participate in the General stampede, only because they owned most of the wealth. However, the Emperor, and the Pope equally mindlessly and blindly follow the chariot going straight to hell.

At the top of the stack fun happy lovers. Below people heard by their petty Affairs: Rob and cheat, indulge in gluttony and drunkenness, cheating and fornicating. And no matter what vile monsters in the rat, fish and frog's appearance entice a cart of hay to the underworld. In everyday hectic sinful people have lost perspective. They are not aware of themselves or the direction of the movement. Only the angel on top of the hay seems praying in the sky of Christ, but the fat demon is clearly "outweighs". Conclusion of Bosch's disappointing: the impact on people of the evil inclination is much more noticeable and effective than the principles of God's commandments.

Right wing. Hell

Hellfire blazes on the horizon, the crimson glow. Rush through the sky witch. And in the foreground hard at work: here devils "utilizing" sinners. Bosch makes a pretty bold interpretation what is happening in hell as it turns out, everything is subordinated to the construction of devil's tower. Maybe it's a parody of the famous tower of Babel, a symbol of proud humanity, and inherent in pride is destruction and discord. But there is another version. Saint Gregory wrote about that house in Paradise built of gold bricks, each of which is a good thing. Perhaps theologically educated, Bosch gives a mirrored variant of this construction: tower in hell consists of human sins, or, as he wrote the monk josé de Sigüenza (the historian of the Escorial and one of the first interpreters of Bosch), the tower consists of forever lost souls."


Pretty long researched couldn't connect the meaning of stories external and internal folds. Now increasingly voiced the idea that the relationship between them is the relationship between the specific and the General. Closed doors – a story of how evil and sin are refracted in specific human destiny (perhaps even the fate of the artist). Open the altar – inclusive history of evil: its origin, growth and inevitable finale.

Thus, the triptych "the hay" is a kind of "biography of evil". Literal and detailed. This is a sequential pictorial narrative about how evil was born ("the Fall", left wing), spread around the world ("the hay", the Central part of the triptych) and how it will be punished (Hell, right wing).

Author: Anna Yesterday
I like59 To the selection64
About the artwork

Art form: Painting

Subject and objects: Religious scene, Allegorical scene

Style of art: Northern Renaissance

Technique: Oil

Materials: Wood

Date of creation: 1515

Size: 135×190 cm

Artwork in selections: 64 selections