Museums and Art

“The Seven Deadly Sins and the Four Last Things,” Jerome Bosch - description of the painting

“The Seven Deadly Sins and the Four Last Things,” Jerome Bosch - description of the painting

The Seven Deadly Sins and the Four Last Things - Jerome Bosch. 120 x 150 cm

This original painting, dating back to the early period of the artist’s creative work, is often called a countertop for its appearance and purpose, which it never brought to life. The picture is distinguished by an original solution and design, containing several interconnected plots at the same time.

If you look closely, you will understand the deep symbolism of the image. In the center of the picture, a round element, consisting of four circles of different sizes in a concentric shape, embodies Bosch's vision of the All-Seeing Divine Ocean. His pupil is an image of the risen Jesus Christ, pointing to the wounds that he received while suffering in the name of atonement for the sins of all mankind. Around the divine "pupil" on a gold background is an inscription in Latin, meaning that God sees who, how and what sins. It is surrounded by thin golden rays emanating from the son of God, as from a star.

The next circle is the iris, divided into separate sectors dedicated to the seven deadly sins. Each sin is signed by its own explanatory inscription. But the artist so expressively portrayed all sins that it seems like just an extra act. The sin of gluttony is a man who literally sweeps away from the table any food that appears on it, another dense gentleman, drowsily dormant at the hearth - this is the embodiment of despondency. Voluptuousness is kissing and hugging couples, pride is a woman narcissistically looking in the mirror, fighting drunkards is anger, a judge accepting a bribe - greed, envy - this is how a person who has lost a lawsuit looks at his successful opponent.

All these sins, so understandable in our days, are enclosed in a circle, which emphasizes their cyclicality, repeatability, constant presence in human life. And now, after half a millennium, in our lives there is still a place for all these mortal sins, so that the picture of Bosch remains relevant in the XXI century.

At the four corners of the picture, also inscribed in circles, there are images of four most important things - Death, Last Judgment, Hell and Paradise. Above and below large concentric circles, ribbons with Latin inscriptions are placed.

The painting in this masterpiece of medieval art is very detailed and realistic. Colored, even multi-colored circles are placed on a smooth black background, which perfectly shades and emphasizes bright colors. Bosch’s characteristic metaphorical style has already appeared in this picture, but it still doesn’t contain so many monstrous irrational and otherworldly characters, as if born in a heavy delirious dream.


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