triptych of haywain
The Haywain Triptych is a panel painting by Hieronymus Bosch, now in the Museo del Prado, Madrid, Spain. A date of around 1516 has been established by means of dendrochronological research. The central panel, signed “Jheronimus Bosch”, measures 135 by 200 centimeters and the wings measure 147 × 66 cm. The outside shutters feature a version of Bosch’s The Wayfarer.
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.
It was not until 1914 that the three panels of the triptych came back together in the Prado, where the triptych is currently displayed. A copy hangs in El Escorial.
It also shows the creation of Adam and Eve, their temptation by the Devil and their subsequent casting out from the Garden of Eden. The main panel depicts the haywain of the title, with a huge hay wagon surrounded by different types of people who are committing various sins. Christ is shown looking down upon them. The hay cart is being drawn by an assortment of half-human demons, and these continue into the right-hand panel.
For analysis of works by other celebrated Northern Renaissance artists, plese see the following:
The right-hand panel is Bosch’s depiction of Hell (or maybe the world on the Day of Judgement), a flaming underworld filled with hideous beasts, torturing and tearing humans apart, eating them alive and hanging them from the rooftops amid the smoke and flames. [Note: See similar creatures in the later painting Mad Meg (Dulle Griet) (1562) by Pieter Bruegel the Elder (1525-69).] In this connection, note that Bosch was a witness to the terrible fire of 1463 that destroyed much of the prosperous Dutch town of Brabant, which might account for the images of fire in many of his paintings. Another curious aspect of this panel concerns the strange tower being constructed. What on earth is its purpose? Is it reaching towards Heaven for some reason?
The Emperor and the Pope.
In the world depicted by Bosch, who can resist the attraction of hay? The group of musicians and lovers sitting on the wagon look seemingly indifferent to all earthly temptations.
The “Haywain” — or hay wagon — was an important turning point in the secularization of religious art, Mr. Lammertse said. “Triptychs were always for altarpieces and then always for religious themes, and on the back side you had scenes of saints,” he continued. “You never, never had an everyday life scene. He’s the first who does it and that’s really a revolution.”
Mr. de Mooij came up with a plan to instigate a large-scale research project that would include Bosch paintings around the world, and persuaded his municipality and philanthropic organizations to donate the money to support it. In 2010, they established the Bosch Research and Conservation Project, which ultimately raised 3 million euros, about $3.3 million, from Den Bosch, the Foundation Jheronimus Bosch 500, the Gieskes-Strijbis Foundation and the Getty Foundation to study, preserve, document and restore Bosch paintings in museums around the world.