Death and meanness (Death of miser), Jerome Bosch
- Posted by Jerome Bosch
- Museum: National Art Gallery (Washington)
- Year: Around 1485-1490
Description of the picture :
Death and meanness (Death of miser) – Jerome Bosch. Around 1485-1490. Wood, butter. 93 x 31cm
Bosch’s works are always mysterious, filled with numerous symbols that vary depending on the context, and signs, the value of which is now irretrievably lost.
A long, vertically elongated picture depicts a parable of greed. The action takes place gradually, from bottom to top. In the foreground, weapons and armor hint at power and strength as the initial source of wealth. Over time, wealth grows through usury, and rats and salamanders take possession of it.
In the hand of the rich man – rosary, the key to the chest hangs on the belt. The last scene – a meaner is faced with the choice: to stay with the money, take a bag of coins that Greed with a toad face, or obey the guardian angel and turn his eyes to the crucifixion and God.
The man is closely watched by the Devil, hanging from the high canopy of his bed, and the skinny Death in the doorway awaits the decision of the rich man – he can’t hide from it anyway.
The winged dwarf in the foreground at the barrier is a kind of Bosch signature. Perhaps this is a self-portrait of a master who reflects with a smile about wealth and death.