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Museums and Art

“The Death of the Merchant”, Jerome Bosch - description of the painting

“The Death of the Merchant”, Jerome Bosch - description of the painting

The death of the merchant - Jerome Bosch. 92.6 x 30.8 cm

The painting depicts in the allegorical form so characteristic of this artist the death of a mean man tempted by demons. Externally, the picture looks like an altar leaf or part of a triptych, since it has an exclusively elongated shape. The scene on the tree is depicted in oil, and in its form and composition it resembles other works of the master - “Allegory of Gluttony and Voluptuousness” and “The Ship of Fools”.

The diagonal composition of the painting is extremely well inscribed in such a complex, very narrow and long form of the board. It captures the moment of the passing away of the life of a merchant. He lies in his bed in a neat and spacious bedroom, but his death is devoid of goodness and humility, there is no remorse in him for the things he did during his life. Despite the fact that there is a guardian angel at his head, urging him to turn his gaze to the Almighty and think about the soul, avaricious only continues to consider his material values.

He is tempted by a bag of gold, a small demon peeking out from under the bed. Another representative of the dark part of the other world leaned on a parapet with signs of a high knightly position thrown over him - a mantle and a sword. All these signs of the futility of a mundane existence continue to interest the dying man more than his immortal soul, despite the fact that Death with a scythe is already peering into his door.

The artistic merits of the picture, taking into account the time of its creation, allow us to speak not only of semantic significance, but also of the artist’s high skill. The diagonal perspective is complex in terms of the correct reproduction of proportions, and in this picture everything looks correctly and professionally depicted.

The color scheme of the picture is quite diverse, but not variegated. It is dominated by fairly light colors in warm colors. There are no flashy accents or any special details that distract attention. The reddish tones of the canopy on the bed are balanced by a more saturated shade of the vaulted ceiling and golden floorboards. The olive color of the character’s clothes in the foreground, which stands next to the open chest with things collected for life by the merchant, is intended to focus the audience on this symbol of meaningless hoarding. All this seems so insignificant in the face of irrevocable withdrawal from this world.

The eyes of the watchers should be focused on the meaning of the image, and art is secondary, this is only an occasion to reflect on the transience and futility of life.


Watch the video: The Triumph of Death - Pieter Bruegel the Elder (January 2021).