The Crowning with Thorns, Bosch

The Crowning with Thorns, Bosch
The Crowning with Thorns, Bosch

The Crowning with Thorns painted by the Flemish artist Hieronymus Bosch and now in the National Gallery in London, shows us a Renaissance style to which the artist did not it has accustomed us; In addition, the work is a display of the mastery with which El Bosco composed his canvases and presents a new iconographic conception in one of the episodes of the passion of Christ.


Hyeronimus Bosh, better known as El Bosco (1450 – 1516) is one of the most representative figures of the Flemish school in Northern Europe. Not much data is preserved about his life, it seems that El Bosco descends from an ancient family of artists and that he was trained in the family workshop together with his father. Once inside the guild of painters, El Bosco achieved numerous successes, however, the dating and authorship problems regarding his works are a constant for art experts since the artist only signed a few works and almost none are dated.

In the case of the Crowning with Thorns that we analyze here, a work also known as Los Improperios, its dating is also controversial: some authors have pointed out that the work could have been carried out at the end of the seventies while others, delay its production until the beginning of the 16th century. Today the experts seem to assure that the work must have been carried out around the eighties,about the year 1485. Thus this Coronation, would be part of the works of early maturity, where the artist shows a marked influence of Renaissance forms.

This is a small panel painted in oil that barely reaches seventy centimeters in height and sixty in width and whose state of conservation is quite precarious, the work has undergone multiple interventions and subsequent repainting. In it we can see five characters that occupy the entire surface of the panel, crowding together in the foreground. There are four executioners who mistreat and mock Jesus Christ, after the arrest episode. This is the moment recounted in the Gospels, when Jesus is dressed in purple and crowned with a crown of thorns as king of the Jews.

In his executioners we can appreciate the four temperaments, thus in the upper left corner the phlegmatic, we find a man dressed in green and with a metallic glove that could represent a Roman soldier and wearing a strange hat pierced by an arrow, this soldier appears placing the crown of thorns on Jesus; to his right, the melancholy temperament, a man who rests his hand on Jesus' shoulder and who wears a dog collar. At the bottom left appears the sanguine temperament that with a mocking smile seems to enjoy the scene, in his clothing the presence of a star and a crescent symbolizing Islam and Judaism can be seen. The last character would represent the sanguine temperament and is placing a tunic on Jesuswhitish.

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