Untitled painting by Michael Hussar
Which of the seven deadly sins might this encapsulate?
Surrealism is alive and well in 2006.
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“Pope Gregory the Great (d. 604) described Seven Deadly Sins in his Moralia in Job.
1. Superbia Pride
2. Invidia Envy
3. Ira Anger
4. Avaritia Avarice
5. Tristia Sadness
6. Gula Gluttony
7. Luxuria Lust
(Moralia in Job, XXXI cap. xlv).
The sin â€˜Tristiaâ€™ was later replaced by â€˜Accidiaâ€™, or Sloth (Wenzel (1967), 38). This sin was taken from earlier catalogues of vice, in particular, the eight evil thoughts listed by Evaagrius (346-99), and the eight principal vices proposed by the mid fourth-century writer Cassian (Wenzel (1967), 14-21). Some of the iconography of the Sins was derived from the descriptions of the Battles between the Virtues and Vices in the Psychomachia by the fourth-century poet Prudentius”.
The Seven Deadly Sins and the Four Last Things by Hieronymous Bosch
Size: 120 x 150 cm
Type of painting: oil on panel
Date of the painting: 1480-1500
A Painting, An Artist
“The composition of the panel is structured around five circles. The central one is divided into three concentric rings and symbolically represents the eye of God. In the centre is the image of Christ on the holy sepulchre showing his wounds. In the next area is an inscription warning that God is watching: “Cave, Cave Dominus Videt” (Take care, take care, God is watching). The centre is separated by another circle with gilded rays which provides the composition with a neutral space in order to highlight the outer ring in which Bosch has painted representations of the Seven Deadly Sins, each one identified by Latin inscriptions: Anger, Pride, Lust, Sloth, Gluttony, Avarice and Envy.
The four corners of the panel are occupied by four smaller circles in which Bosch has painted the Four Last Things: Death, Judgement, Hell and Glory.
At the top and bottom of the composition are two scrolls in which appear Latin texts reproducing Chapter 32 of Deuteronomy, warning of the dangers of sin. The one above reads: ” For they are a nation void of counsel, neither is there any understanding in them./ O that they were wise, that they understood this, that they would consider their latter end”. The inscription below reads: I will hide my face from them, I will see what their end shall be”.
The artist has represented the Seven Deadly Sins as small scenes based on his observation of daily life in the Netherlands but one which contains a critique of the vices of his own age. Each of these views can be compared to a small work of genre painting. This wheel of sins is united by the shared sky and by views of the Dutch countryside. The interior scenes are filled with details of everyday objects.
The Four Last Things are conventional images: the most complex is that of Hell in which we again find the Seven Deadly Sins with their accompanying punishments.
The origins of this panel are unknown. It was probably produced as a commission from a monastic order. In 1574 it belonged to Philip II who kept it in the monastery of El Escorial. In the inventories of the king’s possessions it is described as a table-top rather than a panel for hanging on the wall. During the Spanish Civil War it was brought to the Museo del Prado on deposit from Patrimonio Nacional”. (http://museoprado.mcu.es/icuadro_mayo_2003.html)
Seven Deadly Sins sculpture by Jennifer Strange
Bosch paintings in Den Bosch on a construction barrier in front of the cathedral of Sint Jan in Bsoch, Netherlands. From left to right, scenes from “The Ship of Fools,â€ â€œThe Pedlar,â€ â€œChrist Carrying the Cross,â€ â€œThe Conjurer,â€ the right panel of â€œSt. Anthony Borne Aloft by Demons.â€
Photo by Anja Zeidler