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Bosch and the Narrenschiff: A Problem in Relationships Author(s): Charles D. Cuttler Source: The Art Bulletin, Vol.

51, No. 3 (Sep., 1969), pp. 272-276 Published by: College Art Association Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3048632 . Accessed: 29/06/2011 11:28
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The Art Bulletin



The painting in the Louvre generally known as the Ship of Fools (Fig. 1), by Hieronymus Bosch, presents a moralizing satire. Almost all comment on the work has stressed this since LafondI in 1914 related the painting to Sebastian Brant's Narrenschiff, first published in 1494 in Basel by Bergmann von Olpe. Many of its illustrations have been attributed to the young Diirer.2 Other printings followed, authorized and unauthorized. In 1497 Jacob Locher translated the Narrenschiff into Latin, greatly aiding its spread to other countries. Less than a decade after its first appearance numerous vernacular versions that stemmed from Locher's translation came from the presses; for example, the Flemish version published by Marchand in Paris in 1500, and based on a French edition of 1498 by Josse Bade. Bosch could have known the original edition of 1494, considered by many a terminus post quem for the painting, as well as the Marchand Flemish version of 1500. Either 1494 or 1500 is a possible date for the Louvre panel in relation to Bosch's development. The painting has resisted identification with any tradition other than literary. No close parallels to its composition have been cited except for drawings and engravings made after it.3 Twelve figures are found in the painting; the most prominent are a Franciscan monk and a nun who plays a lute. They sing merrily, a pancake dangling before them; three other figures accompany them, one the steersman who neglects his duties to join the singing. In the bow of the boat a Beguine seems to be offering a wine jug to a man in the bottom of the boat; seemingly he has already had too much, as has certainly the man leaning over the stern. The sole figure seen in the act of drinking is a fool, who is smaller than the other figures, and is seated backwards on a dead tree branch growing out of the boat. Another figure climbs the mast, which is shrouded in branches. Knife in hand, he is about to cut down the cooked goose tied to the mast. Above, a banner floats in the breeze, its insignia a crescent. Higher up are more branches, in the midst of which appears, seemingly, an owl. Bosch's painting gives prominence to the religious figures, and so is much in keeping with Brant and his literary antecedents, who also excoriate and satirize the clergy. As in the Narrenschiff, Bosch has put the clerical and the lay populace in the same boat, and, like Brant, has accentuated the sensual pleasures in the overindulgence of which mankind is bound to sin. The parallel strongly suggests the influence of the Narrenschiff on Bosch. In 1919 Demonts related the painting to the illustrations in Josse Bade's French edition of 1498, and interpreted the theme as a satire

on gluttony. He considered the mast a tree symbolic of good and evil, of the Tree of Knowledge, and considered the owl, which he called a skull, to be the serpent.4 After associating the work with the several later engravings whose lost originals have been attributed to Bosch, he concluded by proposing that the painting was originally part of a triptych illustrating the Narrenschiff. This interpretation was generally accepted until Enklaar in 1933 published a study of a late medieval society that organized burlesque carnivals and took the name of Blaue Schuit, or Blue Boat, following a poem of 1413 by Jacob van Oestvoren of Zeeland.5 Enklaar developed further in 1937 the idea of a Society of the Blue Boat whose "bohemian" members came from all classes, including the clergy." As evidence that the society participated in carnivals with a boat mounted on a wagon as its entry, he cited a sixteenth-century manuscript from Nuremberg, the Schbnbartbuch, which describes the annual masquerades celebrating the return of spring. One of its miniatures, illustrated by Enklaar, shows a blue boat on wheels pulled by ropes; the boat flies a pennant with a crescent on it. Attacked by armed men, the boat is defended by a fantastically dressed crew. Not all writers have accepted Enklaar's conclusions: for one thing, Bosch's painted boat is not blue; for another, the boat is not under attack, nor is it on land. Bax in 1948 rejected both the Demonts and Enklaar theories, preferring to see in the Louvre painting stereotypes emblematic of folly, intemperance, and debauchery, and buttressing his thesis with exhaustive references to popular Netherlandish literature.7 He followed Charles de Tolnay in considering the mast and branches symbolic of the May Tree.8 In 1962 Helne Adhemar concluded that the Louvre painting is not a Ship of Fools, since only one figure is dressed in fool's costume; that not only do the singing and drinking figures make a satirical statement against monks, but also the work is a satire against drunkenness itself, of which monks were often accused." The monks lose control of their senses (she notes the redness of the faces), for drunkenness engenders folly; and like sparrows they eat cherries. The dissolute monks neglect the boat, which she sees as the Church, and the souls who cling to it. One of these she sees in the naked figure in the water. The mast-tree is understood by her as a tree of evil, and the young peasant climbing the mast to steal the goose is, she thinks, taking advantage of the singer's drunken obsession that they can satisfy their passions by catching and eating the pancake.1? To support these varied interpretations of Bosch's meaning only a minimum of visual evidence has been put forward. In my opinion, however, Bosch's paintings satisfy the iconographer's dictum that every work of art has its progenitor or progenitors in other works of art. It seems appropriate, therefore, to emphasize that Bosch's

1 P. Lafond, Hieronymus Bosch, son art, son influence, ses disciples, Brussels-Paris, 1914, 79ff. 2 E. Panofsky, The Life and Art of Albrecht Direr, Princeton, 4th ed., 1955, 29ff. 3 For a summary of opinion on the painting and relationships to it, see H. Adhemar, Le musee national du Louvre, Paris, I, Les primitifs flamands, I, Corpus de la peinture des anciens pays-bas meridionaux aux quinzieme sidcle, 5, Brussels, 1962, 20-32. 4 L. Demonts, "Deux primitifs neerlandais au Musee du Louvre," Ga-

zette des Beaux-Arts, 6th ser., 15, 1919, 4ff. 5 D. T. Enklaar, "De Blaue Schuit," Tijdschrift voor Geschiedenis, 48, 1933, 37-64, 145-61. 6 Idem, Varende Luyden,Assen, 1937; 2nd ed., 1956, 90ff., and fig. 5. 7 D. Bax, Ontciffering van Jeroen Bosch, The Hague, 1948, 189-94. 8 C. de Tolnay, Hieronymus Boschi,Basel, 1937, 68, and n. 112; 2nd ed., Baden-Baden,1965, 347-49. 9 Adhemar, Corpus, 29. o10Ibid.



artistic sources must be sought first in visual imagery, and only secondarily in literary material, despite the obvious fact that a number of his works are program paintings. Some of the motifs in the Louvre painting have striking connections with Flemish manuscript illuminations of Bosch's own day. Monks in a boat shown parallel to the picture plane, as in Bosch's panel, can be found in several manuscripts that illustrate the Miracles de Nostre Dame. One of these, now in Paris, and probably made in the Tavernier shop in Bruges in the 1470's, shows a group of monks on a pleasure outing in a boat (Fig. 2).11 They are frightened by the sight of devils carrying off the soul of an apostate. In fear of drowning from demonic attack, they pray to the Virgin for aid, which is given to them.12 The scene is clearly not an exact parallel to Bosch's painting, but it does portray monks in a boat engaged in what the text implies is pleasure-seeking, and thus sinful behavior. From this we may conclude that a boating party and sinful monks were readily associated ideas in Bosch's time. A related kind of scene, that is, a boating party without monks, allows a closer approach to the Louvre painting. Another manuscript from Bruges, roughly contemporaneous with that just discussed, contains a different boating scene. This appears in the lower margin of the Visitation scene in an horae in the Musee Conde, Chantilly (Fig. 3).13 Youthful couples are seen in the boat, and branches as well. A similar scene is found in another horae, attributed in part to the Master of the Dresden Prayerbook, which was sold from the Dyson Perrins Collection at Sotheby's in 1958.14 In the calendar illustration for the month of May young couples are making music in a boat on a canal. A boating party as the May calendar illustration became popular in Bruges horae. The Chantilly May miniature shows a pair of lovers seated on the ground, but apparently it was made (seemingly

it dates from the early 1480's) before the boating scene became
canonical for May illustrations in manuscripts from the GhentBruges region. However, by the end of the first decade of the sixteenth century, a boating scene as the May calendar illustration is a constant in works from the shop of Simon Bening, Bruges' leading illuminator. The scene is found in a closely related group of sumptuous manuscripts: the Breviary in the Musee Mayer van den Bergh, Antwerp; the Golf Book in the British Museum, London (so called because one of its miniatures shows a golfing scene); the Hennessy

Hours in the Bibliotheque Royale, Brussels; and the Da Costa Hours, Morgan Library, New York.15 These manuscripts have been attributed to Simon Bening or Gerard Horenbout, or to the two artists in collaboration,16 and their May calendar scenes depict a musical boating party with one or more polers, male and female music-makers (usually flutists and lutenists), and leafy boughs in the boat. The Morgan Library manuscript illumination (Fig. 4) even shows a bottle hung over the side of the boat to keep its contents cool, as in Bosch's painting.17 Bosch's influence does not appear in these works, even where, if there were to be any influence, one would expect it-in the treatment of such a subject as the Fall of the Rebel Angels.18 The style of the miniatures can be traced to the greatest innovator of the late Ghent-Bruges school of illumination, the Master of Mary of Burgundy, who has often been associated with Sanders Bening of Ghent, the father of the illuminators Simon and Paul Bening of Bruges. It is worth mentioning that the Master of the Dresden Prayerbook was an occasional co-worker with the Master of Mary of Burgundy. It has been seen that at the end of the fifteenth century and in the early years of the sixteenth, a musical boating party was substituted in May miniatures for one of the several earlier iconographic norms. At the beginning of the fifteenth century, May scenes show a mounted young man hawking, as in the Rohan Hours, a type also widespread in the fourteenth century, or, as in the Limbourgs' calendar illustration from the even more famous Tres Riches Heures du Duc de Berry, a scene of the whole court hawking in May. Earlier, however, in northern Italy May was represented as a pleasant outing, with strolling couples and a luncheon al fresco, in the landscape painting in the Torre d'Aquila of the Castello de Buon Consiglio at Trent.19 Then, in what is, according to Schretlen,20 a German copy of a Netherlandish calendar for the years 1458 to 1477 (Fig. 5), we find May characterized in a scene of a youthful courtier seated beneath a tree playing a lute for his lady love, an iconographic motif seemingly of Italian derivation, though the lady's immersion in a tub has another source. The motif of a naked woman in a tub probably derives from the representation of one of Venus' children in the popular planet pictures.21 Northern illuminations and prints repeat the theme of amorous dalliance as a characteristic of the May scene in the fifteenth cen-

11 Paris, Bibliotheque Nationale, Ms. fr. 9199, fol. 6; often illustrated, e.g., L. M. J. Delaisse, Le siecle d'or de la miniature flamande, Brussels, Amsterdam, 1959, pl. 39. 12 For the text see A. de Laborde, Les miracles de Nostre Dame, Paris, 1929, I, 33ff. A close copy of the illumination is found in Oxford, Bodleian Library,MsDouce 374, fol. 15. 13 J. Meurgey, Les principaux manuscrits a peintures du musee Conde a Chantilly, SFRMP,1930, No. 79, pl. cxu. 14 Sale of Dec. 9, 1958, Sotheby and Co., London, Dyson Perrins Collection, Part I, Lot 38, pl. 44. 15 For the Breviary (fol. 3v) see Camille Gaspar, Le breviaire du muske Mayer van den Bergh a Anvers, Bruxelles, 1932, pl. v; for the Golf Book, British Museum, Add. Ms. 24098, fol. 22v, see Paul Durrieu, La miniature flamande au temps de la cour de Bourgogne, Paris-Brussels, 2nd ed., 1927, 89f., pl. xc; for the Hennessy Hours, Brussels, Bibliotheque Royale, Ms. II, 158, fol. 5v, see Durrieu, La miniature flamande, 89, pl. LXXXIX (attributed to Simon Bening and his atelier); for the Da Costa Hours, N.Y., The Pierpont Morgan Library, see The Pierpont Morgan Library,Exhibition of Illuminated Manuscripts Held

16 17 18

19 20 21

at the New York Public Library, introduction by C. R. Morey, catalogue by B. da C. Green and Meta P. Harrsen, New York, 1934, 62, No. 132. P. Wescher, "Sanders and Simon Bening and Gerard Horenbout,"Art Quarterly, 9, 1946, 198ff. I wish to thank Mr. Robert E. Morris for bringing this to my attention. For the Fall of the Rebel Angels in the Antwerp Breviary (fol. 552v), see Gaspar, Le breviaire, pl. LXII. For the date of the Breviary as not earlier than 1515, see E. Beck, "The Mayer van den Bergh Breviary," BurlingtonMagazine, 62, 1933, 266. O. Pcicht, "Early Italian Nature Studies and the Early Calendar Landscape," Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes, 13, 1950, 38, pl. 13a; a contemporaryFrenchparallel is also discussed. M. J. Schretlen, Dutch and Flemish Woodcuts of the Fifteenth Century, London, 1925, 20, pl. 12. See, inter alia, A. M. Hind, An Introduction to a History of Woodcut, New York, reprint ed. 1963, I, 253, fig. 104.


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tury. The scene of a young music-making couple became the preferred type, though the earlier hawking scene also appeared, but with far less frequency. However, only in the Ghent-Bruges region does the musical boating party with boughs in the boat appear as the May calendar scene. How can this iconographic innovation, the transportation of the music-making couple beneath a tree to a boat riding on the Flemish canals, be accounted for? One may hazard a guess that the scene is the outgrowth of a local facility; the canals of Bruges and Ghent are still famous, particularly Bruges' Minnewater, or Lake of Love, for which there is nothing comparable at 's-Hertogenbosch. That this custom existed where the facilities allowed is evident in a painting of a canal scene in The Hague, thought to represent a now transformed portion of Haarlem,22 painted by J. A. Berkheyde in 1666 (Fig. 6). The departure for a boating party is seen here. The leafy boughs of the Flemish miniature appear in the bow of the boat, and a keg, probably of beer, has replaced the Flemish wine bottles. The participants, including the fiddler, are also less elegant than their earlier Flemish counterparts. Berkheyde too was representing custom. It also seems probable that the Master of Mary of Burgundy was the inventor of this distinctive iconographic transformation of the normal May scene. He was the most inventive of the late fifteenth-century miniaturists, as Otto Picht has pointed out,23 and his relationship to the painter of the manuscript from the Dyson Perrins Collection and to the Benings has already been mentioned. It is possible that Bosch became aware of the new May iconography on a trip to Bruges and a visit to the shops of its illuminators, perhaps in 1504, the year in which he received a payment related to the Last Judgment altarpiece for Philip the Handsome.24 So it seems that Bax and those who preceded him in relating the Louvre painting to a May festival were correct in their surmise, although they could adduce no artistic and literary models, except that the painting reflects local custom rather than festive formality. And it is to local custom that the leafy boughs in the boats in the miniatures, now gathered about the mast in the painting, may be attributed. Out of the boughs about the mast peers what Demonts thought was a skull, and what Tolnay considered to be a carnival mask. Nevertheless, it suggests an owl, the common symbol in almost all

the bestiaries of those blind to Christianity. And the pennant flying in the breeze carries the sign of the most threatening pagans of the day, the Turks. Their crescent insignia was frequently used by Bosch to indicate the enemies of Christian belief.25 In short, Bosch has presented in the Louvre painting a satirizing and moralizing parallel to the musical boating parties of the May miniatures. He must have been aware of the May miniatures, and there is also the possibility that he was aware of the miniature of monks in a boat from the Miracles de Nostre Dame cited above. We are, it seems, a step closer to Bosch's intent, but at least one question is still unanswered: is the subject a Ship of Fools? Seemingly the painting is related to Brant's famous work, and Bosch was undoubtedly acquainted with it, but the images presented here do not add support to a conclusion that this is the dominant theme. One may view the work in the same light as Bosch's Lisbon triptych of the Temptation of St. Anthony, to which it may be related in time and style. As the Lisbon triptych presents a synthesis of medieval belief and the several themes of St. Anthony's temptations, so the Louvre work forms a whole in which the monk and his companions are, according to Bosch, fools like those who go on musical boating parties, which lead the participants into sinful behavior. A conclusion that Bosch was a fifteenth-century Anthony Comstock seems particularly apt at this point.26 Bosch's imagery in this painting seems subsumed under the heading of Gluttony, presented as a moralizing satire castigating the un-Christian vices of excessive drinking and roistering. Apparently Gluttony was uppermost in Bosch's mind; in the popular moralizing treatise La Somme le Roi a man at table vomiting to the side characterized the sin, and Bosch too shows a vomiting man. The treatise was popular in the Netherlands; it was printed five times in the decade 1478-88-in Delft, Hasselt, and Haarlem. In the treatise are passages which seem to relate to Bosch's painting. Gluttony is a sin of the tongue: ". .. the evil tongue is the tree God cursed in the gospels for he ne found nothing but leaves ...."27 If the monk leads others into gluttony this is the first branch of the sin, and the twelfth branch of Lust is a man of religion with a woman of religion.28 The sixth state of Chastity demands that the priest keep clean because he serves at God's table:29 Bosch's dangling pancake suggests the Host, and the board suggests an altar table with cup and paten, though the cloth is lacking. The exact opposite of cleanli-

22 Muse . . . Mauritshuis a La Haye, Catalogue raisonnee des tableaux et sculptures, 3rd ed., The Hague, 1935, No. 746. 23 0. Paicht,The Master of Mary of Burgundy,London, 1948, 23f. 24 J. P. Sosson of the Centre National de Recherches "Primitifs Flamands" in Brussels very kindly informed me that the 36 livres Bosch received in 1504 as payment related to this altarpiece, 9 by 11 feet, was not a large sum; according to his estimate this was the wage for one month for a carpenter. It is also possible that the swimmers in the Louvre painting were suggested by planet pictures, probably by the Luna representation that has been asserted as known to Bosch in its earliest Italian version (C. D. Cuttler, "The Lisbon Temptation of St. Anthony by Jerome Bosch," Art Bulletin, 39, 1957, 118f.). Nude waders appear in later May scenes in German art of the late 1520's (e.g., a cut by Hans Sebald Beham [C. Dodgson, "RareWoodcuts May'woodin the Ashmolean Museum, II," BurlingtonMagazine, 63, 1963, 116, and pl. Iia]), and nude waders engage in amorous play in planet Venus scenes of almost the same date (e.g., in the woodcut series of the planets possibly by Georg Pencz [Anna C. Hoyt, "The Woodcuts of the Planets



27 28 29

formerly attributed to Hans Sebald Beham," Bulletin of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 53, 1954, 2-10, and fig. 3]). The nude swimmers seem to have resulted from combining the twins of Gemini, May's zodiacal sign, with Venus scenes. The twins were normally shown as naked, as in the Beham woodcut. E.g., the FrankfurtEcce Homo, the Lisbon Temptation of St. Anthony triptych, the London Crowning with Thorns, the Escorial Carrying of the Cross. The crescent is also prominent in the drawing in the Albertina, Vienna, of the Man-Boat-Tree (commonly attributed to Bosch despite its very poor quality). E. Panofsky, Early Netherlandish Painting, Its Origins and Character, Cambridge,1953, I, 357, calls Bosch "... one of those extreme moralists, who, obsessed with what they fight, are haunted, not unpleasantly, by visions of obscenities, perversions, and tortures." W. N. Francis, The Book of Virtues and Vices, A Fourteenth Century English Translation of the Somme le Roi of Lorens d'Orltans, EETS, O.S., No. 217, 1942, 55. Ibid., 45. Ibid., 261.

1. Bosch, Allegory of Gluttony ("Ship of Fools"). Paris, Louvre (photo: A.C.L., Brussels)

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2. Monks in a Boat, from the Miracles de Nostre Dame. Paris, Bibliothique Nationale, Ms. fr. 9199, fol. 6 4. May, from the Da Costa Hours. New York, The Pierpont Morgan Library, Ms399, fol. 6v (photo: The Pierpont Morgan Library)

3. Visitation, from Horae. Chantilly, Musee Conde, Ms1141, fol. 54 (photo: Giraudon) 5. Calendar, John of Gamundia. London, British Museum (photo: British Museum)

6. J. A. Berkheyde, Canal Scene. The Hague, Mauritshuis (photo: A. Dingjan) 7. Bosch, Allegory of Intemperance. New Haven, Yale University Art Gallery, the Rabinowitz Collection of European Paintings, Gift of Hannah D. and Louis M. Rabinowitz

8. Bosch, Allegory of Avarice ("Death of the Miser"). Washington, D.C., National Gallery of Art, Samuel H. Kress Collection (photo: National Gallery of


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9. Avarice, from La Somme le Roi. London, British Museum, Add. Ms 28162, fol. 9 (photo: British Museum) 11. Bosch, Temptation of St. Anthony, central panel, detail. Lisbon, Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga

10. Illustration to Chapter XVII of Sebastian Brant, Das Narrenschiff, Basel, 1494 (photo: The Pierpont Morgan Library)



ness at table, that is, before the altar, is presented here seemingly as an expression of the monde renverse, which Bosch also symbolized on the left wing of his Lisbon triptych.30 For the moment, then, it may be asserted that Bosch, with the Narrenschiff, the May miniatures, and La Somme le Roi in mind, transformed his borrowings into a moralizing satire on gluttony, with possibly an admixture of lust as a sub-theme. The Louvre painting has been associated with a panel in the Yale Art Gallery (Fig. 7), to which it is closely related in style, and with which it is almost identical in width.31 The theme of the Yale panel is probably an allegory of lust, as is indicated by the couple in the tent, with a gluttonous overtone in the other figures. A loving couple characterizes Lust in Bosch's Seven Deadly Sins painting in the Prado, and such a couple is common in Venus planet pictures. Bosch castigated belief in the planets in his Lisbon triptych,32 and it seems that he has done the same in the Yale fragment. Although the Yale picture has been cut down at the top and on the right, it and the Louvre painting have been suggested as having originally been placed one above the other to form the interior wing of a triptych for which the Death of the Miser in the National Gallery, Washington, formed the opposite wing (Fig. 8)."3 The Louvre painting has been cut only at the bottom; thus if the two panels were once united the Yale panel would have occupied the lower position. Such a combination seems unlikely on compositional grounds, and Tolnay has pointed out34 that the two panels are different in color. Bosch in his preserved work never balanced a double scene with a single scene, and the Death of the Miser in theme and composition is not a double scene. The Washington panel, whose theme is the deadly sin of avarice, has been related to the popular Ars moriendi, or the Art of Dying Well, which was illustrated in woodcuts and engravings. Tervarent, however, preferred to see its source in a death scene in a German miniature of the second quarter of the fifteenth century, in which he found a greater number of motifs related to the painting than can be discovered in Ars moriendi scenes.35 Bax, however, cited a death scene from the Miracles de Nostre Dame in which a figure looks into a chest placed at the foot of the dying man's bed; this he thought even more closely related to Bosch's painting than the miniature cited by Tervarent.36 However, in these two scenes the chest is not that of a miser, which it certainly is in Bosch's panel. The association of the miser with a chest is an old one, and can be found illustrated in a number of late thirteenth- and early fourteenth-century manuscripts of La Somme le Roi (Fig. 9)."7 Bosch must have been well aware of this tradition, for demons aid the miser in his hoarding in the illuminations and in the Washington panel. The Louvre and Washington paintings, but not the Yale

panel, take a moralizing viewpoint and use the imagery of La Somme le Roi (for example, a vomiting man to symbolize gluttony). However, though there is a relation to La Somme le Roi and its traditional imagery, this is not the dominant aspect of the Louvre and Washington panels. The Louvre and Washington paintings are actually more strongly related in time and conception to the Narrenschiff than to La Somme le Roi. The illustration to Chapter XVII (Fig. 10) of Brant's work, entitled "Of Useless Riches," seems to be related compositionally to the Washington panel, and the final lines of the accompanying text present the moral: Who from the poor his treasure locks Will find God deaf whene'er he knocks.38 This chapter, significantly, follows one which castigates drunkenness and feasting, whose sinful overindulgence Bosch also warned against in the Louvre and Yale panels. Bosch, one may conclude, drew upon his memory of the Narrenschiff when he sketched out the composition of the Washington panel. Bosch's miser is in keeping with the tradition of La Somme le Roi illustration, but is more subtly expressed than the obvious fool's capped figure from the Narrenschiff. The Narrenschiff beggar before the low wall has been transformed by Bosch into a veiled disparagement of knights and chivalry, suggested by the helmet, lance, gauntlet, sword, and shield. The objects seem to be related visually and conceptually to the nearby draped cloth and the little evil monkish figure behind it. There is a vague allusion to jousting and tournaments, a very popular form of entertainment in the late medieval period. Naturally tournaments were castigated in the literature, as in the sermons of Jacques de Vitay and in other writings."39Several chapters in the Narrenschiff also condemn knights; in Chapter LXXIX they are united in greed with clerks to fleece peasants by the sale of safe conducts, and in Chapter LXXVI, "Of Boasting," they flaunt false papers of legitimacy, both ideas that Bosch seems to illustrate in the actions of the standing figure at the foot of the bed, and the demon to the left of the chest holding up a sealed paper. This can be related to the lines from Brant's Chapter LXXVI: Some own a seal and patent good They prove they are of noble blood. They're first, they claim quite rightfully, To be dubbed in that family,....4o The lines that follow stress the moral that nobility flows from virtue. This is also, it seems, Bosch's point by implication: in this world greed and falsity go hand in hand in evil union. This allegorical statement was even stronger as Bosch first conceived it.

30 Cuttler, "Temptation of St. Anthony," 114. 31 C. T. Eisler, New England Museums, Les primitifs flamands, I, Corpus de la peinture des anciens pays bas meridionaux aux quinzime sicle, 4, Brussels, 1961, 46. The Yale panel is 32cm wide, and the Louvrepanel is 32.5cm wide. 32 Cuttler, "Temptation of St. Anthony," 118f. 33 Eisler, Corpus, 48. 34 Tolnay, Bosch, 2nd ed., 348. 35 G. de Tervarent, "The Origin of One of Jerome Bosch's Pictures," Message. Belgian Review, Jan., 1945, 61ff.

36 Bax, Onticjfering, 244, fig. 60. 37 E.g., British Museum, Add. Ms. 28162, fol. 9v; also see E. G. Millar, An Illuminated Manuscript of La Somme le Roi Attributed to the Parisian Miniaturist Oxford, 1953. Honor,, 38 S. Brant, The Ship of Fools, trans, by E. H. Zeydel, New York, 1944, 101. 39 M. W. Bloomfield, The Seven Deadly Sins, E. Lansing, 1952, 129, 172. 40 Brant, Ship of Fools, 253.


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The underdrawing, revealed by infrared photography,41 shows that the dying man in bed holds the viaticum in his hand, but in the final rendition the greedy sinner is still more interested in the moneybag offered by the demon than in the salvation the angel vainly tries to make him see might be his. Bosch had thus originally indicated that the avaricious would sell even the viaticum. Chapter LXXVI of the Narrenschiff also contains the following lines: A hawk is like a heron dressed And on the helmet eggs in nest And on the nest a moulting cock He's breeding out the little flock

.42 ...

This image cannot be found in the Washington panel, but it is a close parallel to a figure in the group to the right of the platform in the central panel of Bosch's Lisbon triptych of the Temptation of St. Anthony (Fig. 11). A castigation of knights is clearly visible in this motif, and the condemnation of tourneys is also visible in the group in front of the platform at the left. The suggestion that this such folly leads to fantastic group is a censure of tourneys-for death-has been made before.43 The Death of the Miser is generally considered to be earlier than the Lisbon panel, and the artistic idea expressed in the later work is apparently a fully developed conception seen only summarily and with a different emphasis in the Washington painting. Viewed in this light, the association of the appurtenances of knighthood with the main theme of Avarice becomes understandable. This is not a social satire of the nobility, as Tolnay thought,44 but a satire on the greed of false knights; it is also a statement of Bosch's inherent pessimism. That all life leads to death is a truism, he seems to say, but men's actions, because of the enormity of their sins, lead to

an everlasting death without hope of resurrection to a new and better life. The baleful little man on the far side of the cloth hung over the low wall (a visual anticipation of the mounted skull-topped armored figure trailing a long cloth in the Lisbon panel) is a pictorial exposition of Bosch's meaning, for in his thinking all the things of this world are permeated with evil. The association of the paraphernalia of knighthood with the actions of the miser and the standing figure may seem illogical to the modern mind, but surely it was not so for Bosch. What is seen here is the leap characteristic of his symbolically oriented thinking. He used his motifs with full knowledge of their traditional significations, but so combined them in his unprecedented moralizing pictures that the motifs take on allusive rather than explicit import. For him, apparently, their intrinsic meanings were not changed by the alteration or removal of their traditional framework, but for us they have become so transformed by time that they are almost unintelligible. In sum, in these paintings, as in all his work, Bosch appears as a biting commentator on the folly and sins of man. The vivid transposition into woodcuts of Brant's pungent text, and the text itself, clearly struck a response in Bosch's thinking. The earlier assertion of a relationship between Brant and Bosch seems to find additional support here. The disparate character of the Paris, New Haven, and Washington panels does not, however, allow any valid conclusion about a relationship either to one another or to any multi-paneled combination. These panels do, however, demonstrate that Bosch drew upon his past as well as his present to stock the vast arsenal of his imagery. His individualistic method, and his personal symbolism, though they determine moralizing Gothic allegories, make him the most modern of his contemporaries. University of Iowa

41 Art News Annual, 21, 1952, 113, fig. 3. 42 Brant, Ship of Fools, 252 (italics mine).

43 Cuttler, "Temptationof St. Anthony," 121f. 44 Tolnay, Bosch, 2nd ed., 25.