“A newly established triptych by Hieronymus Bosch” (Johannes Hartau) 2003
[in: Hélène Verougstraete and Roger Van Schoute (eds.), Le dessin sous-jacent et la technologie dans la peinture. Colloque XIV, 13-15 septembre 2001, Bruges-Rotterdam. Jérôme Bosch et son entourage et autres études. Uitgeverij Peeters, Louvain-Paris-Dudley (Ma.), 2003, pp. 33-38]
Thanks to Peter Klein’s dendrochronological research it could be concluded that the Paris Ship of Fools, the New Haven Gula, the Washington Death of a Miser and the Rotterdam Pedlar were once parts of one triptych.Their supports are all from the same tree, which was cut after 1476. The wood can have been painted circa 1500 or later.
According to Hartau this new triptych shows thematical similarities to the Haywain triptych: both sets of exterior panels represent a pedlar, the pancake eating scene in the left interior panel of the new triptych can be compared with Adam and Eve in the left interior panel of the Haywain, and the monsters in the Death of a Miser panel (the right interior panel of the new triptych) can be compared with the monsters in the Hell panel of the Haywain. But what did the central panel of the new triptych represent? Not another haywain, according to Hartau, but probably an interior scene, as the wings breathe an intimate and private atmosphere. Hartau suggests a Wedding at Cana. The Rotterdam Wedding at Cana panel is not an authentic Bosch but can probably be traced back to a Bosch original and has approximately the right measures to fit in as the central panel of the new triptych.
Because the Rotterdam Wedding at Cana seems to reflect some Jewish connotations, the exterior panels with the pedlar, the scene of lust (left interior panel) and the dying miser (right interior panel) could have something to do with the reproaches the Christians had for their Jewish fellow citizens. In 1496 the converted Jew Jacob van Aelmangien was baptized in ’s-Hertogenbosch. And in 1497 Sebastian Brant’s Das Narrenschiff was translated into Latin (see the left interior panel). That is why Hartau suggests the new triptych may have been painted ‘after 1497’. The title he suggests is The Futile Riches.
Hartau’s argumentation makes a very chaotic impression and his suggestions and arguments sound little convincing.