The Seven Deadly Sins and the Four Last Things
|Type||Oil on wood|
|Dimensions||120 cm × 150 cm (47 in × 59 in)|
|Location||Museo del Prado, Madrid|
The Seven Deadly Sins and the Four Last Things is a painting attributed to Hieronymus Bosch, completed around 1500 or later. The painting is oil on wood panels. The painting is presented in a series of circular images.
Four small circles, detailing "Death of the Sinner", "Judgement", "Hell", and "Glory", surround a larger circle in which the seven deadly sins are depicted: wrath at the bottom, then (proceeding clockwise) envy, greed, gluttony, sloth, extravagance (later, lust), and pride in scenes from everyday life rather than allegorical representations of the sins.
At the centre of the large circle, which is said to represent the eye of God, is a "pupil" in which Christ can be seen emerging from his tomb. Below this image is the Latin inscription Cave Cave Deus Videt ("Beware, Beware, God Sees").
Above and below the central image are inscription in Latin of Deuteronomy 32:28-29, containing the lines "For they are a nation void of counsel, neither is there any understanding in them," above, and "O that they were wise, that they understood this, that they would consider their latter end!" below.
In 1560 Felipe de Guevara wrote about a pupil of Bosch, a "discipulo", who was as good as his master and even signed his works with his name. Immediately after this, and without starting a new paragraph, De Guevara refers to the painting of the Seven Deadly Sins as characteristic of his style. This brought some scholars, as early as Dollmayr in 1898, to ascribe the work to this pupil, but most of them have argued, in spite of the context, that De Guevara had returned here to a description of the works of Bosch himself. For long the painting was considered therefore to be a work from Bosch's youth. Several of the costumes however suggest a much later date, around 1500. This, together with the recent dendrochronological dating of many of Bosch's own panels, the fact that this work has not been painted on oak and the fact that aberrant techniques are used - like the use of a ruler - have revived the idea that the painting is not by Bosch himself.
Each scene of the painting depicts a different sin.
In the Pride scene, a demon is shown holding a mirror in front a woman. In anger, a man is about to kill a woman symbolizing murder as an effect of Wrath. The small circles also have details. In Death of Sinner, death is shown at the doorstep along with an angel and a demon while the priest says the sinner's Last Rites, In Glory, the saved are entering Heaven, with Jesus and the saints, at the gate of Heaven an Angel prevents a demon from ensnaring a woman. Saint Peter is shown as the gatekeeper. In Judgment, Christ is shown in glory while angels wake up the dead, while in the Hell demons torment sinners according to their sins.
Further examples include Gluttony, where a demon "feeds" a man food of hell. Another example is the Greed scene, in which misers are boiled in a pot of gold.
Seven Deadly sins
Four Last Things
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- Claudia Lyn Cahan and Catherine Riley (1980). Bosch~Bruegel and the Northern Renaissance. Avenal Books. ISBN 0-517-30373-6.
- Felipe de Guevara, "Commentarios de la Pintura", 1560. English summary and commentary in: Stechow, wolfgang. "Northern Renaissance Art 1400-1600: Sources and Documents. 1966 (paperback 1989).