“Het einde der tijden, in de ogen van Bosch” (Jos Koldeweij) 2015
[in: Kunstschrift, vol. 59, nr. 6 (December 2015/January 2016), pp. 20-27]
Bosch’s oeuvre, as far as it has come down to us, is dominated by representations of the end of times. A Last Judgment engraving, influenced by Bosch and produced by Alart Duhameel, an architect, sculptor and engraver who was active in ’s-Hertogenbosch from 1478 till 1494, points out that Bosch had already developed an interest in this subject matter before 1494. Unfortunately, the Bosch Research and Conservation project could not (was not allowed to) study the Vienna Last Judgment triptych, but it was possible to study Lucas Cranach’s copy of the same triptych and the Bruges Last Judgment triptych, which was located in Venice in the 1520’s, probably in the collections of cardinal Grimani. The recent restoration tried to upgrade the exterior panels (representing a Crowning with Thorns) of this triptych.
The Berlin St John on Patmos panel was painted by Bosch circa 1490 as an extension of the altarpiece of the Confraternity of Our Lady in ’s-Hertogenbosch. Here, this hypothesis dating from 2001 is presented as a proven fact. About the Garden of Delights and the Haywain we read: ‘No matter how many riddles the details may hide, the global message in both the Garden and the Haywain is as clear as in the Vienna Last Judgment: evil has been in the world since the very beginning. Mankind is lecherous, vain and greedy and is responsible for its own behaviour and its path of life, paved with the seven deadly sins, is leading straight towards hell’. Apparently, Koldeweij has given up his former positive reading of the Garden’s central panel. As in 2001 he wrote: ‘The Garden of Delights’ central panel shows a multi-coloured, lusty and innocent mankind. Only God’s creation is represented, nothing human-made is present yet: a vision of a peaceful paradisiacal society without shame [see Koldeweij 2001c: 119].
Koldeweij also repeats his hypothesis about the saint in the right exterior panel of the Vienna Last Judgment triptych: he is not St Bavo but St Hippolytus and the triptych’s patron was probably Hippolyte de Berthoz, a Burgundian nobleman [compare Koldeweij 2014]. Finally Koldeweij suggests that one of the interior panels of the Rotterdam Flood-triptych represents the world àfter the Last Judgment and that the lost central panel probably represented a Last Judgment.
[explicit 8th January 2016]