The Abbess Eager for a Legacy

The Abbess Eager for a Legacy

Detail of the bottom part, right panel of Garden of Delight
Prado Museum, Madrid

Hieronymus Bosch (c. 1450-1516) Netherlands

Now, the stage moves to Europe.

Born in the decades before the Protestant Reformation, the pious painter was faithful to the Pope, but did not restrain his criticism of a corrupt Catholic church. Breaking from his predecessors, Bosch employed kaleidoscopic visual imagery, perhaps best seen in his monumental triptych Garden of Earthly Delights.

Here the concept of religious criticism is apparent; the bottom of the right panel of Garden of Earthly Delights, entitled the Abbess Eager for a Legacy, directly attacks the corruption of the church.

It raises the question of who the swine is; is it an abbess who has become bestial through her association with the church, or is it in fact a true swine, which has disguised itself as an abbess to engage in an unholy act?



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