“Jheronimus Bosch and the Symbolism of Tarot Cards” (Bohumil Vurm) 2010
[in: Eric De Bruyn / Jos Koldeweij (eds.), Jheronimus Bosch. His Sources. 2nd International Jheronimus Bosch Conference, May 22-25, 2007, Jheronimus Bosch Art Center, ’s-Hertogenbosch, the Netherlands. Jheronimus Bosch Art Center, ’s-Hertogenbosch, 2010, pp. 321-329]
The Tarot card system originated a few decades before Bosch’s birth. The best argument for connecting Bosch with Tarot cards is the wayfarer on the closed wings of the Haywain and on the Rotterdam tondo because these paintings share some symbols with the key Tarot card of the Fool: walking man, road, walking stick, hat, backpack, dog and landscape with gate or bridge. It seems likely that originally the Tarot was meant as a mirror of late-medieval society, reflecting its social order as well as its anxieties, hopes and desires. This is something we can also see in Bosch’s paintings.
According to Vurm other similarities between Tarot and Bosch are the following: Death holding an arrow (the Death card / Death of a Miser), the objects on the Juggler’s table on the Juggler card and the objects belonging to the miser in the Death of a Miser panel, and St. Anthony’s staff in the shape of a Tau (the Hermit card). The monster devouring sinners on the right wing of the Garden seems to refer to Saturn/Time devouring his/its own children.
This contribution teaches us some things about Tarot cards, but very little or nothing about Bosch.
[explicit 6th August 2012]