Bosch in Venice

The works by Jheronimus Bosch (c. 1450–1516) in Venice were mentioned for the first time in 1733 by Antonio Maria Zanetti. In Descrizione di tutte le pubbliche pitture della città di Venezia, Zanetti described one triptych of a crucified female saint (Triptych of St. Uncumber), another of St. Jerome and two other saints (Hermit Saints Triptych), and a series of four panels with “hybrid animals and scenes of witchcraft” (Four Visions of the Hereafter). These works may originally have been in the collection of the Venetian cardinal Domenico Grimani (1461–1523). They were long on view in the Palazzo Ducale, and more recently in the Palazzo Grimani.

The Interactive Viewers

Below you will find links to interactive viewers (click to zoom in; scroll-wheel to zoom in or out; click and drag to pan) for each of the painted surfaces. Once in the viewer, you can switch between high-resolution visible, infrared photography, and infrared reflectography images by pressing the numbers 1, 2, and 3, respectively. Pressing 5 will display the different image types side by side, and pressing 6 will display the images using our new "curtain viewer", which allows for a dynamic splitting of the view into panes that constantly resize to follow the mouse pointer. On touch-screen devices, pinch-to-zoom and panning work in all modes, and in the curtain mode the division between panes can be dragged.

Finally, note that these viewers are designed to work well in full-screen mode.


Triptych of St. Uncumber

The central panel represents the crucifixion of a female saint, Uncumber (also called Liberata or Wilgefortis). The left wing shows St. Anthony in meditation, the right wing a monk leading a soldier. Originally a kneeling male donor appeared on each wing. These figures were overpainted but are now revealed through X-radiography, infrared reflectography, and infrared photography. According to dendrochronology analysis of the central panel’s wood, the youngest growth ring dates from 1480, so the panel could not have been painted before 1489, and an execution before 1493 is unlikely. The exteriors of both wings have been stripped; what was represented there is unknown. The reverse of each of the panels can be seen here.

St. Anthony in Meditation

Oak, 105 x 27.5 cm; Venice, Gallerie dell’Accademia

The Crucified Female Martyr

Oak, 105 x 63 cm; Venice, Gallerie dell’Accademia

Monk Leading a Soldier

Oak, 105 x 28 cm; Venice, Gallerie dell’Accademia

Hermit Saints Triptych

The triptych shows three celebrated hermit saints: St. Jerome in the center, St. Anthony on the left wing, and St. Giles on the right. All three appear in devout prayer, with traditional iconography. As on the Triptych of St. Uncumber, the signature "Jheronimus bosch" is painted in white at the bottom of the central panel. Dendrochronology shows that the last-preserved annual growth ring in the central panel dates to 1476. Therefore, it was not painted before 1485, and execution before 1489 is unlikely. The paintings on the wings’ exteriors have been lost. Originally the top of the central panel was rounded and the wings, when closed, made a cover of corresponding form. The backs of the panels can be seen here.

St. Anthony

Oak, 85.4 x 29.2 cm; Venice, Gallerie dell’Accademia

St. Jerome

Oak, 85.7 x 60.0 cm; Venice, Gallerie dell’Accademia

St. Giles

Oak: 85.7 x 28.9 cm; Venice, Gallerie dell’Accademia

Four Visions of the Hereafter

This series of four panels represents punishment and reward: the Fall of the Damned and Hell, in opposition to Earthly Paradise and Ascent into Heaven. The reverses are painted to imitate marble, two panels in red and two in green. Dendrochronology shows the youngest annual growth ring to be from 1473. Thus, the panels were not painted before 1482, and probably not before 1486. The panels’ original function and arrangement are unknown. There is no signature, and the generally accepted attribution to Bosch is based on stylistic analysis only. The ascent of blessed souls to the light through a tapering tunnel is one of the most acclaimed details in the Bosch oeuvre.

Fall of the Damned

Oak, 88.8 x 39.6 cm; Venice, Palazzo Grimani

Hell

Oak, 88.8 x 39.6 cm; Venice, Palazzo Grimani

Earthly Paradise

Oak, 88.5 x 39.8 cm; Venice, Palazzo Grimani

Ascent into Heaven

Oak, 88.8 x 39.9 cm; Venice, Palazzo Grimani

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© 2013 The Bosch Research and Conservation Project.