Vienna Triptych, Hieronymus Bosch

Vienna Triptych, Hieronymus Bosch
Vienna Triptych, Hieronymus Bosch

The Vienna Triptych or Vienna Last Judgment Triptych, is one of the best-known works by the artist Hieronymus Bosch, better known as Hieronymus Bosch. The work would complete a cycle on sin and man that would have begun years ago with the panels of the Triptych of the Garden of Earthly Delights that represents Original Sin and later with the Hay Wain, an allusion to the decadence of Humanity. In this way, the Vienna Triptych represents the last scene in the evolution of Sin: the Final Judgment where Jesus Christ separates the just from the sinners. Currently, some authors suggest that this hypothesis would not be really true since they delay the date of execution of the Hay Wagon table until 1502, being therefore prior to the Last Judgment whose dating has been established around 1506 or 1508..


The Vienna Triptych is a work done in oil on panel that measures almost two and a half meters wide and just over one and a half meters high. It appears decorated both on the obverse and on the reverse and it seems that the work could have been commissioned from the artist by the monarch Felipe el Hermoso himself. Currently, the work is in the Academy of Fine Arts in the city of Vienna.

The decoration of the closed shutters shows two figures made in grisailles: Saint James the Greater and Saint Bavo. Santiago is representedlike a pilgrim walking through a world that is submerged in hate; For his part, Saint Bavo -patron saint of Flanders- has been represented as a knight and surrounded by beggars since, according to legend, he donated all his possessions to the most needy.


With the open triptych we see in the central panel the representation of the Last Judgment: the panel is divided into two regions, above floating in the sky we find the figure of Jesus Christ on a rainbow and behind it Mary and Saint John the Evangelist leaning on some clouds. Completing the scene are the figures of a chosen few who have been saved and some angels blowing trumpets. In the lower register, the earthly world lies submerged in a hell; the damned, much more numerous than the saved, are stalked by demons who subject them to all kinds of punishments depending on their vices.

In the panel on the left the artist represents the origin of sin in a succession of scenes: in the foreground Adam appears asleep at the moment of the creation of Eve, we also find the scene of the Temptation of Eve and finally, the Expulsion from Paradise.

For its part, the table on the right represents hell, a hell that for the artist is actually the extension of what happened in the Last Judgment, in fact both The panels are very similar both in terms of chromaticism – in both the earthy range predominates – and in what is represented. Repeat the same structure as the artist alreadyhad presented us in previous works, hell resembles a city devastated by war.

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