Jan Provoost: Death and the miser (1515-1521)

(Groeningemuseum, Bruges, Belgium)

A set of paintings by the Flemish artist Jan Provoost (1463-1529). These 2 paintings form the outside panels of a triptych of which the central panel is missing. Depicted is a 'Death and the miser', a common scene in 15th\16th century art (the most famous one is from Jheronimus Bosch - see the link below). These scenes are a memento mori (latin for 'remember that you have to die"), works that reminded the viewer that they too will die and then have to face God. Commonly with these type of paintings the miser is shown clinging to worldly temptations (usually money) when Death comes for his soul. On this painting the miser is offering Death a piece of paper, propably a receipt or a confession of guilt, in an attempt to earn some money from Death himself. the coins which Death is laying on the table is not real money but jetons (tokens which were used in the 13th-17th century in calculations on a lined board similar to an abacus). The man on the right in the background is propably a self-portrait of the artist himself, he functions here as the 'fool' who laughs at the folly of the miser . Painting from 1515-1521.

Another painting with the same subject: Jheronimus Bosch - Death and the Miser (1485-1490)

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