the haywain triptych
According to a contemporary interpretation of Bosch’s painting by Ambrosio de Morales (1513-91), The Haywain Triptych symbolizes the triviality and transience of earthly pleasures and the futile acquisition of worldly goods. (Compare later Dutch vanitas painting.) In effect, Bosch is trying to show how the pursuit of material possessions and physical pleasure (the grabbing of hay) leads ultimately to eternal damnation. (One Flemish proverb states: “the world is like a hay cart and everyone takes what he can”.)
Portinari Altarpiece (1476-9) Uffizi Gallery. By Hugo van der Goes.
The exterior of the shutters, like most contemporary Netherlandish triptychs, were also painted, although in this case Bosch used full colors instead of the usual grisaille. When closed, they form a single scene depicting a wayfarer. Around him is a series of miniatures including the robbery of another wayfarer and a hanged man. The man uses a stick to repel a dog.
The central panel features a large wagon of hay surrounded by a multitude of fools engaged in a variety of sins, quite apart from the sins of lust which dominates the Garden of Earthly Delights. In the center panel Bosch shows Christ in the sky, not paralleled in the Garden. An angel on top of the wagon looks to the sky, praying, but none of the other figures see Christ looking down on the world. The rightward bow of the figures around the wagon provides the force for the viewer’s eye to move with them on their journey and the cart is drawn by infernal beings which drag everyone to Hell, depicted on the right panel.
In the heavens above, God (the Father) sits in a bright golden area, holding a blue globe. Below him are a great number of winged angels, who are tumbling from the clouds. As they descend, some appear to have transformed into winged creatures and daemons. A few have fallen into the distant sea.
By Iona Maccombie Smith | The BL
In the left panel, we see the Garden of Eden. The creation of Adam and Eve by God is shown along with the original sin and expulsion from the Garden.
“The Wayfarer” will be part of all the shows, and visitors to all three museums will have the opportunity to see them in the same space. And for the first time since the 1960s, there will be many more Bosch paintings to compare and contrast, in both the Netherlands and Spain.
In his “Haywain Triptych” of 1515, Hieronymus Bosch instead painted in ordinary sinners — murderers, whores, quacks and errant clergymen — being escorted toward Hell by a weird parade of rodent-faced demons and fish-shaped devils. It is among the most popular works of early Renaissance art still around today.