Jheronimus Bosch: The Pedlar (1494-1516)


(Museum Boijmans van Beuningen, Rotterdam, The Netherlands)

A painting by the Dutch artist Jheronimus Bosch (1450 – 1516). This painting was the outside of a triptych which was cut up in the 19th century (only parts of the inside have survived: the Allegory of Gluttony and Lust, the Ship of Fools and Death and the Miser). The outside shows a man who is walking on a road. The man looks like a traveling merchant and in his left hand he has hit hat which has a Stitching awl and wire. The white band on his left leg indicates that he is wounded , probably he was bitten by the dog with a spiked collar behind him (the spiked collar indicated that it either a hunting dog or an evil dog). The building on the left is a brothel: in the door is a flirting couple, on the roof is a jar which contains a stick (a reference to sexual intercourse) and a birdcage is hanging outside the door (a reference to the Dutch word of ' vogelen' or ' birding' which also meant ' having sex'. The man is walking on a road which is blocked by a fence and a cow and a magpie behind it. In the tree is an lurking owl and a great tit. In the background is a gallows field. What the entire scene means is uncertain. As the surviving inner panels show several sins (avarice, gluttony and lust), this painting must be related to that. Usually the scene is interpreted as either the prodigal son (Luke 15:11–32), having lost everything and is returning to his father or a recalcitrant sinner. Painting from 1494-1516.

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