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The significance of gestures in the paintings of Hieronymus Bosch

Van Baaren 1990
Van Baaren, Th.P.
Genre: Nonfiction, art history
Uitgave datum: 1990
Bron: Visible Religion - volume VII (Genres in visual representation), E.J. Brill, Leiden-New York-Copenhagen-London-Cologne, 1990, pp. 21-30

Van Baaren 1990


“The significance of gestures in the paintings of Hieronymus Bosch” (Th.P. van Baaren) 1990

[in: Visible Religion – volume VII (Genres in visual representation). E.J. Brill, Leiden-New York-Copenhagen-Cologne, 1990, pp. 21-30]


Van Baaren tries to explain some gestures in Bosch’s paintings. The position of the hands in the case of the servant who tries to catch wine from a fallen pitcher with his open mouth in the Wedding at Cana (Rotterdam), does not mean he is afraid of the demonic dishes being brought in, but expresses delight: apparently he likes the wine.


Christ’s elevated arms in the central panel of the Haywain (Madrid) point out that He is disappointed in the behaviour of the humans on earth: in this way Christ admits that His mission on earth has been a failure. With Bosch the devil is as powerful as, perhaps even more powerful than God.


Van Baaren is unable to explain the gesture made by the fingers of the Jesus Child in the Adoration of the Child (Cologne). The gesture (ring and middle finger pressed together, index and pink separated from the middle fingers) does appear elsewhere in late-medieval European iconography. Van Baaren thinks that Spaanstra-Polak is right when she suggests that the gesture is nothing but a meaningless expression of refined elegance.



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