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The death of the miser

Painting, 1490-th , 92.6×30.8 cm

Description of the artwork «The death of the miser»

Wooden bar Bosch "Death of a miser" presented at the National gallery of art (Washington). It is known that there it came from the collection of businessman and art patron Samuel Henry Kress, and before that was in the collection of van der Hellste in Vienna.

Judging by the greatly elongated vertical format, and abrupt perspective reduction, "death of a miser" could be part of a triptych. In 2016 at the exhibition in den Bosch in the homeland of the artist, the four pieces of the triptych together. External doors, known as "The prodigal son" arrived from Rotterdam. As for internal parts, the Central panel of a triptych, probably lost. The panel "death and the miser" from the National gallery in Washington is the right wing, and "Ship of fools" (Louvre) and "Allegory of gluttony and lust" (Art gallery of Yale University) were once left the fold.

The plot was taken from popular in the time of Bosch's treatise Ars moriendi ("Art of dying"). This small piece was first used exclusively by the priests to assist them in the preparation of sermons, but in the Renaissance and especially during the reformation received in Germany and the Netherlands widespread. The death of a person is seen in the Ars moriendi as a result, mediocre or righteously lived life. And the measure of things is whether the dying precepts of Christ or rejects them. Before the same dilemma turns out to be a character in a painting by Bosch.

The viewer opens a bedroom with vaulted high ceiling and a bed under the canopy of which stood a gaunt dying. Death, traditionally depicted as a skeleton, wrapped in a white shroud, looking at his door. She gave you an arrow but hesitates in indecision. The miser on his deathbed, there is still a chance for salvation. On the eve of death, he faces the same choice that tempted him in life: money or salvation, purse or eternal life. On the one hand the angel, carefully supporting the patient's back, points to the crucifix in the arch of the window opening near the ceiling. On the other hand, the devil in the guise of unseen monster in the invention of the Bosch was particularly skillful) hands him the money bag.

And while the New Testament warns that "you cannot serve God and mammon" (enrichment), the miser turns away from the angel and instinctively pulls his hands over the bag of money. Around sport a variety of dark creatures. Obviously, these are the spirits of the underworld gathered to persuade a dying man to his side. But the final choice is still not done. While the arrow of death is not put, the miser has a chance to reject the devil and to follow the angel in heaven.

Medieval art was common coexistence in the same space different time plans. Bosch follows the same principle, quietly moving death scene in the depths of the painting, and in the foreground, portraying a miser to his usual domestic setting. He puts the coins in the bag he substitutes the devil (possibly even the one that will continue to tempt a miser on his deathbed), and in that moment, the miser doesn't remember about what at his belt hang a rosary and the window of the room marked with a cross.

Interesting also things not without grace "scattered" by Bosch at the lower edge of the Board. Hardly cloak, peak, helmet and glove were previously owned by a miser. Most likely, these attributes of chivalry are to be interpreted as symbols of allegiance to Christianity. Adherence to Christian duty in Gothic aesthetics, which is largely owned by Bosch identified with the knight's honor.

Author: Anna Yesterday
from 1450 rub
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About the artwork

Art form: Painting

Subject and objects: Allegorical scene

Style of art: Northern Renaissance

Technique: Oil

Materials: Wood

Date of creation: 1490-th

Size: 92.6×30.8 cm

Artwork in selections: 29 selections

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