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The seven deadly sins and the four last things

Painting, 1480-th , 119.5×139.5 cm

Description of the artwork «The seven deadly sins and the four last things»

"The 7 deadly sins and 4 last things" one of the few works of the Flemish school in the collection of the Prado Museum. The attribution of the painting has long raised questions. Despite the fact that in any monograph on the artist's work "the 7 deadly sins and 4 last things" are exclusively dealt with in detail, doubts about its accessories Bosch has always been. Walter Bosing (2-I floor. The twentieth century connects them to the imperfection of the performance: awkward flat shape, almost devoid of perspective space, the hard contours and color without halftones – all these features indicate that, most likely, the picture is not belongs to the brush of the master. Previously believed that only two of the most perfect fragment of the "7 deadly sins – "Greed" and some of the figures in "Envy" – could have been written by the hand of Bosch, but he belongs to the overall design of the painting.

From 2010 to 2016, the picture is closely studied in the framework of the project "Study and preservation of the art of Hieronymus Bosch". New methods of analysis (infrared reflectogram, digital close-up photography with super high resolution, etc.) allowed the project team to conclude that the painting was indeed created in the era of Hieronymus Bosch and even, perhaps, in his workshop, but not by the artist personally. "Perhaps it's a copycat"– says the origin of the painting project coordinator Matthaus Islink.

The functional purpose of the picture

The unusual form of the work suggests that the picture was intended for practical use. However, it is not entirely clear – what exactly. According to one version, the "7 deadly sins" could serve as a countertop, on the other hand finial (cap) the baptismal font.

But in reality the picture is not used either in the first or second functions. She performed the third meditation: when together with other works by Bosch "7 deadly sins" came to Spain, the king Philip II big fan of the artist, gave the order to hang the picture in his bedroom at El Escorial. Looking at boskovsky (or pseudo-boskovsky) sinners helped Philip to understand your own sins and to prepare for the sacrament of confession.

The Central part

The composition is The All-Seeing Eye Of God – multiple concentric circles, of which the smallest ("pupil") is placed a depiction of Jesus Christ. The next circle adjacent to the "pupil" contains the warning in Latin Cave Cave Deus videt ("Beware, beware God sees you!").

From the center of beams, which divide another circle into seven sectors according to the number of deadly sins. It turns out that they are all located on the retina of the eye of God. It is impossible to imagine a visual image illustrating the idea that all the sins of man are inevitably in the sight of God: "And even the hairs of your head are all numbered" (Matt. 10:30).

The Central part of the picture may be associated not only with the eye. The second largest Association is a spinning wheel. This is indicated by "spokes" – the third radii from the center of the circle. Wheel hints at the ubiquity of the spread of sin. Sin does not depend on the habitat and social class: in the picture there are the aristocrats and the clergy, judges, and shopkeepers, peasants and commoners.

Ira (anger)

The sin of wrath illustrated with a genre scene. We have quite a domestic fight, rough street brawl. Both fighters equipped with melee weapons. There are more unexpected details: one runs into another jug, and the one on his head wearing a stool. Pitcher suggests that the root cause of the fight began heavy drinking, and the structure in the background is most likely in the pub. Piece of furniture placed at the head, reflects popular in the Netherlands, saying "To be crowned a three-legged stool".

Symbolic detail are scattered shoes. Pairs of images of footwear in the North-European painting of the personified fidelity. Shoes here, by contrast, is fragmented and will encounter "toe to toe" as nagging spouse. Perhaps this is a hint that the cause of the fight was adultery. Moreover, in the picture there is a woman trying to keep one of the fighters.

Anger is not the worst of the seven sins. But "malignancy" of anger is that it breeds other sins. Sebastian Brant in "Ship of fools" (the work related attitude of Bosch) wrote:

Who is right becomes wrong,
Patience in anger after losing.
Falls into sin, who was unrestrained,
Who is subject to quick anger.
And piety anger hurts:
What kind of prayer, since angry?

Superbia (pride)

Of all the seven sins, pride is the most grievous, as is the root of many others. That pride led to the fall of Lucifer, the angel of light. Pride leads to the fact that a sinner begins to be puffed up before God, forgetting that they are all a gift from God.
At pride paintings "7 deadly sins" – a woman's face. More specifically, the face-something heroine, embodying the pride, we do not see. She turned her back to us, to admire the reflection in the mirror. So that the viewer does not doubt that pride in your beauty is a sin, "stand under the mirror is the devil. A note of Comedy to the whole picture adds that the devil is dressed in an elaborate coif maid. The moral is: as soon as someone falls into the sin of pride and begins to admire him – he immediately begins to serve the evil one.

In this fragment of the "Seven deadly sins" is especially wonderful – so is the image of the interior. It is not quite correct from the standpoint of the doctrine of the future, but in Dutch detailed. Arched window with decorative grilles, door, behind which there is another room, a little table decorated with vase of flowers, box of decorations, and, finally, the "Central character" of this piece – a wooden carved sideboard with elegant utensils – all this is imbued with a loving attention to subject the world to that special comfort which is so valued the art of the Netherlands.

Luxuria (lust)

This piece often compared to a painting by Bosch "Ship of fools". Indeed, many of the details match: play musical instruments (traditionally associated with a love of foreplay), vessels of wine, a plate of cherries (symbol of lust). But if the jester in "Ship of fools" deliberately turned away from what is happening, here it is a full member of the merrymaking. At his naked buttocks pounding one gigantic scoop. Perhaps this is due to the Dutch idiom "hit on the buttocks" indicating profligacy. The same sin show the viewer both pairs – reclining on the lawn and retired to the Tent of Venus".

Avaricia (avarice/ greed)

Many researchers believe "Greed" the most successful piece "7 deadly sins". The personification of greed from Bosch supports the judge-the bribe-takers, the profession in which the public mind is associated with bribery. "The sin of avarice– says the author of a book about Bosch Olga Morozova, – entails the multiplication of worries, inner anger and isolation, provokes fear of loss and anger at possible competitors and will inevitably lead to envy".

Invidia (envy)

Envy also ranked among the deadly sins, because it porogen doubt of the justice of God-given world order. On this snippet the envious look of a man with a bone in his hand, looking out the window. It is not without envy looking at the elegant dressed Falconer with a bird in the hand. Dogs sharing a bone at the feet of a passerby, on his level, duplicate the same situation.

Gula (gluttony, gluttony)

The word "gula" is literally translated from Latin as "throat" or "throat", and figuratively means gluttony, gluttony. The Central character haven't gnawed bone from the previous dishes, and he is already talking about the next – baked bird. In a broad sense "gula" still can mean lust is a sin, which is to be not only gluttons, but also drunkards (as a character at the right edge of the fragment), and lovers of carnal pleasures. Not accidentally, the glutton here wearing unpaired shoes (as well as a wanderer with the paintings of Bosch, stored in Rotterdam): in the Dutch language idiom "wear the Shoe and slipper" meant to be extremely promiscuous".

Accidia (acedia or laziness)

In relation to the gender of the Central character this fragmenta "7 deadly sins" opinions differ: there is still no unity in man or woman so blithely snoozing fireside. The nun gives him (or her) rosary, giving to understand that it is time to pray, but all to no avail. The character is sleeping, and sleeping dog at his feet, and lying close to the Bible and remains unsolved.

4 last things: Death, judgment, Heaven and Hell

Moving from one fragment of the "7 deadly sins" to another, the viewer could not conclude that "the cycle of sin in nature" is inevitable and constant. However, existing beyond the circle of the "Four last things" still put an end to sin, to indicate its logical conclusion. These "four things" is death, judgment, heaven and hell.

Most likely, these fragments were added later compositions in the center. Linda Harris says that the "7 deadly sins" was originally designed as a worktop, which you need to consider walking around in a circle. But adding the "4 last things" the painting received a vertical vector and has become more suitable to be hung on the wall.

Death. Gathered around the dying priest, the Sexton and nuns in the legs is his son, while the daughter-in-law with the maid in the next room is already divided inheritance. Situational this piece is like a painting by Bosch "Death of a miser". And there, and there's death in the form of a skeleton with a scythe, the angel and devil competing for the soul of the dying. The crucifix, the priest turned toward the audience, reminds everyone: "repent, for death is inevitable.

The last judgement. Everything here is within the tradition: in the day of judgment Christ will sit on a throne surrounded by the angels of the workers, while the dead will rise from the earth and will be judged according to their deeds. Original part one small sphere upon which the feet of Christ. It depicts the city skyline and present in the sky at the same time the moon and the sun.

Paradise. In the upper part of the composition of "Paradise" Christ sitting with a book in hand, surrounded by angels. In the foreground are a group of three angels with musical instruments – I think this is the only scenic reference to musical instruments in Bosch's painted positively (in most cases music, on the contrary, is associated with sin and the pains of hell, as, for example, in "the Garden of earthly delights"). The Apostle Peter at the gates of Paradise welcomes vnovpribyvshim, but this time the devil tries to steal his Golden-haired companion, but he prevents winged angel.

Hell. In the scene of hell "7 deadly sins" find a logical solution. The era of Hieronymus Bosch, was convinced that the punishment for each particular sin be not only inevitable, but so specific. For example, a naked man and woman downstairs compositions embody the sin of pride and punishment: the reproductive organs of men tenet beak of a bird of prey, and women in the groin is a huge toad. Above and to the left they depict the sin of voluptuousness: lovers on big red bed the demons pulled apart in different directions, and it is preparing to join the fantastic black lizard. In the center of mistreat those who have been exposed to envy, gluttony and laziness. Dog swinging envious. In front of the glutton instead of the usual dishes – yummy snake, lizard and toad. The sloth beating on the butt with a hammer. In the boiler nadpisy "Greed" boil greedy and difficult, and the devils throw into the pot money mixed with excrement. Above and below the pot spread two sinners, tormented by various dark entities.

The top and bottom of the painting fluttering scrolls with words from the old Testament book of Deuteronomy. The upper inscription reads: "Because they are people devoid of mind, they won't understand! And be smarter – sight would have guessed what awaits them!". On the bottom scroll said: "...I will hide My face from them and see what will be their end..."

Anna Yesterday


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About the artwork

Art form: Painting

Subject and objects: Genre scene, Religious scene, Allegorical scene

Style of art: Northern Renaissance

Technique: Oil

Materials: Wood

Date of creation: 1480-th

Size: 119.5×139.5 cm

Artwork in selections: 53 selections

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