“[Review of Steemers 1979]” (P. Gerlach OFM Cap.) 1980
[in: Spiegel der Letteren, vol. 22 (1980), nr. 2, pp. 134-137]
[Not mentioned in Gibson 1983]
Father Gerlach reviews Steemers 1979 (dealing with the Vienna Last Judgment triptych). He first points out that so-called ‘home-altarpieces’ and small triptychs, produced for noblemen or important magistrates in the Netherlands, were usually only painted on the inside, because they were always opened.
According to Gerlach Steemers is wrong when he interprets the central panel of the Vienna Last Judgment as a representation of the Last Judgment: the resurrection of the dead is namely lacking. According to Gerlach Bosch is passing a ‘judgment’ here on ‘people who are committing the Seven Deadly Sins’.
Gerlach also disapproves of the literary sources used by Steemers (i.a. Dat Boeck vander Voirsienicheit Godes, the Tafel van den Kersten Ghelove, Tondalus’ Visioen). Bosch was inspired by popular preaches or by other devotional treatises. Gerlach does admit that the Middle Dutch texts quoted by Steemers may help to understand Bosch’s fantasies in a better way. Actually, Steemers’ big example in this was his predecessor, the literary historian Dirk Bax.
For Gerlach, Steemers’ book as a whole makes the impression of a ‘foetus not carried to term’. But every attempt to ‘interpret’ Bosch should be appreciated.
This review is also a ‘foetus not carried to term’. Very weak are Gerlach’s approach of the central panel (it is said nót to be a Last Judgment), his remarks about the ‘little influence on Bosch’ of i.a. The Vision of Tondal, and the fact that regarding the exterior panels he says nothing about Philip the Fair as the triptych’s virtual patron.
[explicit 20th August 1995]