Overview

In this panel Bosch shows us the last moments in the life of a miser, just before his eternal fate is decided. A little monster peeping out from under the bed–curtains tempts the miser with a bag of gold, while an angel kneeling at the right encourages him to acknowledge the crucifix in the window. Death, holding an arrow, enters at the left.

Oppositions of good and evil occur throughout the painting. A lantern containing the fire of Hell, carried by the demon atop the bed canopy, balances the cross which emits a single ray of divine light. The figure in the middle ground, perhaps representing the miser earlier in his life, is shown as hypocritical; with one hand he puts coins into the strongbox where they are collected by a rat–faced demon, and with the other he fingers a rosary, attempting to serve God and Mammon at the same time. A demon emerging from underneath the chest holds up a paper sealed with red wax — perhaps a letter of indulgence or a document that refers to the miser's mercenary activities.

This type of deathbed scene derives from an early printed book, the Ars Moriendi or "Art of Dying," which enjoyed great popularity in the second half of the fifteenth century. The panel may have been the left wing of an altarpiece; the other panels — now missing — would have clarified the meaning of some aspects of the scene, such as the discarded and broken armor and weapons in the foreground.

Inscription

Marks and Labels

null

Provenance

Private collection, England, possibly in or near Arundel, Sussex, around 1826.[1] (Unnamed dealer, Highgate Village, London), c. 1926.[2] (Raven, Massey, and Lester, London), by 1926. (Asscher and Welker, London), by 1931.[3] Baron Joseph van der Elst, Brussels, Biot, France, and numerous diplomatic posts, by 1932 or slightly later.[4] Sold though (Messrs. E.D. Lowy and Franz Mayer) to the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, New York, 1951; gift 1952 by exchange to NGA.

Exhibition History

1942
Flemish Primitives. An Exhibition Organized by the Belgian Government, M. Knoedler & Co., Inc., New York, 1942, no. 68, as Allegory of Avarice.
2001
Hieronymus Bosch, Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam, 2001, unnumbered catalogue, ill. 21d, as Death and the Usurer.

Bibliography

1924
Friedländer, Max J. Die altniederländische Malerei 14 vols. 1924-1937. Berlin, 1937: 14:101. (English ed., 14 vols., 1967-1976. Leiden, 1969: 5:91, Suppl. 135, pl. 117.)
1932
Glück, Gustav. Bruegels Gemälde. Vienna, 1932: 57.
1935
Baldass, Ludwig. "Ein Kreuzigungsaltar von Hieronymus Bosch." Jahrbuch der kunsthistorischen Sammlungen des allerhöchsten Kaiserhauses (Jahrbuch der kunsthistorischen Sammlungen in Wien) N.F. 9 (1935): 89.
1937
De Tolnay, Charles. Hieronymus Bosch. Basel, 1937: 27, 90, no. 7, fig. 20.
1942
Brian, Doris. "The Masters of Gothic Flanders." Art News 41 (15-30 April, 1942): 14, 33, repros. 18-19.
1943
Baldass, Ludwig. Hieronymus Bosch. Vienna, 1943: 22-23, 30, 36, 68, 76-77, 236, figs. 29-30. (Engl. ed. New York, 1960.)
1944
Elst, Joseph van der. The Last Flowering of the Middle Ages. Garden City, New York, 1944: 103-104, pls. 90-91. (Fr. ed. Paris, 1951.)
1945
Tervarent, Guy de. "The Origin of One of Jérôme Bosch's Pictures." Message: Belgian Review 39 (January, 1945): 44-45, fig. 1.
1946
Combe, Jaques. Jérôme Bosch. Paris, 1946: 20-21, pl. 42. (Engl. ed. Paris, 1946.)
1949
Bax, Dirck. Ontcijfering van Jeroen Bosch. The Hague, 1949: 133, 239, 244, 248, 257-258, 261-263, 277, 283, fig. 58. (Engl. ed. Rotterdam, 1979.)
1952
Frankfurter, Alfred. "Interpreting Masterpieces: Twenty-Four Paintings from the Kress Collection." Art News 50 (1952): 113-114, repro. 108.
1953
Dorfles, Gillo. Bosch. Milan, 1953: 75, repro. 36, fig 21.
1955
Popham, A. E. "An Unknown Drawing by Hieronymus Bosch." Actes du XVIIme Congrès International d'Histoire de l'Art, Amsterdam, 23-31 Juillet 1952. The Hague, 1955: 248.
1955
Shapley, Fern Rusk. "The National Gallery of Art at Washington: Acquisitions 1945-1955." The Studio 150 (July 1955): 3, 6, repro.
1956
Philip, Lotte Brand. Bosch. New York, 1956: 18, no. 14, repro. 19.
1956
Walker, John. National Gallery of Art, Washington. New York, 1956: 38, color repro.
1957
Shapley, Fern Rusk. Comparisons in Art: A Companion to the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC. London, 1957 (reprinted 1959): pl. 53.
1958
_Middeleeuwse Kunst der Noordelijke Nederlanden. Exh. cat. Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, 1958: 138-141, no. 180.
1959
Linfert, Carl. Hieronymus Bosch: The Paintings. Garden City, New York, 1959: 10, 113, pl. 26.
1959
_Paintings and Sculpture from the Samuel H. Kress Collection. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1959: 280, repro.
1960
Broadley Hugh T. Flemish Painting in the National Gallery of Art (Booklet no. 5 in Ten Schools of Painting in the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC). Washington, 1960: 8, 30-31, color repro.
1960
_The National Gallery of Art and Its Collections. Foreword by Perry B. Cott and notes by Otto Stelzer. National Gallery of Art, Washington (undated, 1960s): 6.
1961
Eisler, Colin. Primitifs Flamands. Corpus. New England Museums. Brussels, 1961: 48.
1961
Seymour, Charles. Art Treasures for America: An Anthology of Paintings & Sculpture in the Samuel H. Kress Collection. London, 1961: 78-79, 208, color fig. 70-71.
1962
Adhémar, Hélène. Le Musée National du Louvre, Paris: Primitifs Flamands, Corpus. 2 vols. Brussels, 1962: 1:25, 29.
1962
Cairns, Huntington, and John Walker, eds., Treasures from the National Gallery of Art, New York, 1962: 60, color repro.
1962
Winkler, Friedrich. Review of Primitifs Flamands. Corpus. New England Museums by Colin Eisler. In Kunstchronik 15 (1962): 321.
1963
Walker, John. National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. New York, 1963 (reprinted 1964 in French, German, and Spanish): 127, repro. 126.
1965
_Summary Catalogue of European Paintings and Sculpture. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1965: 17.
1966
Cairns, Huntington, and John Walker, eds. A Pageant of Painting from the National Gallery of Art. 2 vols. New York, 1966: 1:98-99, color repro.
1966
De Tolnay, Charles. Hieronymus Bosch. New York, 1966: 25, 347, cat. no. 7, repro. 91.
1966
Lemmens, G., and E. Taverne. "Hieronymus Bosch: Naar aanleiding van de expositie in' s-Hertogenbosch." Simiolus 1 (1966-1967): 88.
1967
Cinotti, Mia. Tout l'oeuvre peint de Jérôme Bosch. Paris, 1967: 92, no. 15, fig. 15 (Ital. ed. Milan, 1967).
1967
_Jheronimus Bosch. Exh. cat. Noordbrabants Museum,'s-Hertogenbosch, Eindhoven, 1967: no. 51.
1968
Boon, Karel. "Review of Hieronymus Bosch by Charles de Tolnay." The Burlington Magazine 110 (1968): 157.
1968
Cuttler, Charles D. Northern Painting, from Pucelle to Bruegel: Fourteenth, Fifteenth, and Sixteenth Centuries. New York, 1968: 201-202, fig. 252.
1968
_European Paintings and Sculpture: Illustrations (Companion to the Summary Catalogue, 1965). Washington, 1968: 9, repro.
1969
Cuttler, Charles. "Bosch and the Narrenschiff: A Problem in Relationships." Art Bulletin 51, no. 3 (September 1969): 275-276, fig 8.
1970
Reuterswärd, Patrik. Hieronymus Bosch. Stockholm, 1970: 173-174, 266-267, no. 19., figs. 35-36.
1972
Filedt Kok, Jan Piet. "Underdrawing and Drawing in the Work of Hieronymus Bosch: A Provisional Survey in Connection with the Painting by Him in Rotterdam." Similous 6 (1972-1973): 151-153, fig. 16 (infared).
1972
Snyder, James E. Review of Musée du Louvre--Inventaire général des dessins des écoles du Nord: maîtres des anciens Pays-Bas nés avant 1550 by Frits Lugt. In Art Bulletin 54, no. 1 (March 1972): 89.
1973
Gibson, Walter. Hieronymus Bosch. New York, 1973: 46-47, repro. 43, figs. 31-32.
1973
Ironside, Jetske. "Hieronymus Bosch: An Investigation of His Underdrawings." Ph.D. dissertation, Bryn Mawr College, 1973: 73-82, 90, 184, 196, 275-276, 305, pls. 1-5.
1975
_European Paintings: An Illustrated Summary Catalogue (National Gallery of Art). Washington, 1975: 36-37, no. 1112, repro.
1975
Fraenger, Wilhelm. Hieronymus Bosch. Dresden, 1975: 296-297, figs. 93-94.
1975
Rowlands, John. Bosch. London, 1975: 8, pl. 16.
1977
Eisler, Colin. Paintings from the Samuel H. Kress Collection: European Schools Excluding Italian. Oxford, 1977: 66-69, figs. 60-61, text figs. 11A-C, color repro detail.
1977
Pope-Hennessy, John. "Completing the Account." Review of Colin Eisler, Paintings from the Samuel H. Kress Collection, London 1977. Times Literary Supplement no. 3927 (17 June 1977).
1977
Silver, Larry. "Power and Pelf: A New-Found Old Man by Massys." Simiolus 9 (1977): 87-88, fig. 24.
1978
Chailley, Jacques. "Jérôme Bosch et ses symboles. Essai de décryptage." Académie Royal de Belgique. Classe des Beaux-Arts. Mémoires 15. Fasc. 1 (1978): 106-108.
1978
Takashina, Shuji. L'oeuvre complet de Hieronymus Bosch. In Japanese. Tokyo, 1978: 246-247, no. 7, pls. 18-19.
1978
Tervarent, Guy de. Attributs et symboles dans l'art profane 1450-1600. 2 vols. Geneva, 1978: 1:34.
1979
Martin, Gregory. Hieronymus Bosch. New York, 1979: no. 7, repro.
1979
Watson, Ross. The National Gallery of Art, Washington. New York, 1979: 54, pl. 37.
1980
Unverfehrt, Gerd. Hieronymus Bosch: Die Rezeption seiner Kunst im frühen 16. Jahrhundert. Berlin, 1980: 26, 36, 44-45, 54, 78-79, 223.
1981
Meijer, Bert W. "Titian Sketches on Canvas and Panel." Master Drawings 19 (1981): 284.
1982
Graziani, René. "Bosch's Wanderer and a Poverty Commonplace from Juvenal." Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes 45 (1982): 212.
1982
Morganstern, Anne M. "The Pawns in Bosch's Death and the Miser." Studies in the History of Art 12 (1982): 33-41, figs. 1-2, 4-5.
1984
Morganstern, Anne. "The Rest of Bosch's Ship of Fools." Art Bulletin 66 (1984): 299-302, figs. 4, 12.
1984
Raupp, Hans Joachim. Untersuchungen zu Künstlerbildnis und Künstlerdarstellung in den Niederlanden im 17. Jahrhundert. Hildesheim and New York, 1984:
1984
Walker, John. National Gallery of Art, Washington. Rev. ed. New York, 1984: 166, no. 184, color repro.
1985
_European Paintings: An Illustrated Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1985: 55, repro.
1985
Snyder, James. Northern Renaissance Art: Painting, Sculpture, the Graphic Arts from 1350-1575. New York, 1985: 205, 201 color pl. 36.
1986
Hand, John Oliver and Martha Wolff. Early Netherlandish Painting. The Collections of the National Gallery of Art Systematic Catalogue. Washington, 1986: 17-22, repro. 16.
1991
Covey, Herbert C. Images of Older People in Western Art and Society. New York, 1991: 155-157, fig. 41.
1992
_National Gallery of Art, Washington. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1992: 40, repro.
1993
Nygren, Edward J. “Money." In Encyclopedia of Comparative Iconography: Themes Depicted in Works of Art. Edited by Helene E. Roberts. 2 vols. Chicago, 1998: 2:620.
1996
_Ars Lignea: Zuresko elizak Euskal Herrian, Las iglesias de madera en el País Vasco. Exh. cat. 3 venues in Spain in 1997. Madrid, 1996: 81, repro.
1997
Richler, Martha. National Gallery of Art, Washington: A World of Art. London, 1997: 41, color fig. 22.
1998
Baumann, Priscilla. "Avarice." In Encyclopedia of Comparative Iconography: Themes Depicted in Works of Art. Edited by Helene E. Roberts. 2 vols. Chicago, 1998: 2:93.
1998
McNamee, Maurice B. S.J. Vested Angels: Eucharistic Allusions in Early Netherlandish Paintings. Peeters, 1998: 182-187, repro. no. 95.
1999
Raupp, Hans Joachim. "Visual Comments of the Mutability of Social Positions and Values in Netherlandish and German Art of the Fifteenth and Sixteenth Centuries." In Showing Status: Representation of Social Positions in the Late Middle Ages. Ed. Wim Blockmans and Antheun Janse. (Medieval Texts and Cultures of Northern Europe, 2 ) Turnhout, 1999: 287, 288 fig. 5.
2000
Vinken, Pierre, and Lucy Schlüter. "The Foreground of Bosch's 'Death and the Miser'." Oud Holland 114, no. 2/4 (2000): 69-78, repro.
2004
Hand, John Oliver. National Gallery of Art: Master Paintings from the Collection. Washington and New York, 2004: 118-119, no. 90, color repro.
2005
Snyder, James. Northern Renaissance Art: Painting, Sculpture, the Graphic Arts from 1350 to 1575. Revised by Larry Silver and Henry Luttikhuizen. Upper Saddle River, 2005: 397-398, col. fig. 16.3.
2011
Freeman, Charles. Holy Bones, Holy Dust: How Relics Shaped the History of Medieval Europe. New Haven, 2011: x, fig. 17.
2014
Paparella, Christopher, Heleen Vinken (co-author Lucy Schlüter). Icons and Enigmas: Investigations in Art. Amsterdam, 2014: 77-93, 114-115, fig. 1, 7.

Technical Summary

[1] Eisler 1977, 66.
[2] René Sneyers, Institut Royal du Patrimoine Artistique, Brussels, letter of 8 July 1968 to Eisler stating that the picture was restored by Albert Philippot without giving a date. Eisler 1977, 69, n. 2, cites de Tolnay 1966, 347, who says that the painting was cleaned and restored in 1937.

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