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.


Marks and Labels



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 1951 though (Messrs. E.D. Lowy and Franz Mayer) to the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, New York; gift 1952 by exchange to NGA.

Exhibition History
Flemish Primitives. An Exhibition Organized by the Belgian Government, M. Knoedler & Co., Inc., New York, 1942, no. 68, as Allegory of Avarice.
Hieronymus Bosch, Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam, 2001, unnumbered catalogue, ill. 21d, as Death and the Usurer.
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.)
Glück, Gustav. Bruegels Gemälde. Vienna, 1932: 57.
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.
De Tolnay, Charles. Hieronymus Bosch. Basel, 1937: 27, 90, no. 7, fig. 20.
Brian, Doris. "The Masters of Gothic Flanders." Art News 41 (15-30 April, 1942): 14, 33, repros. 18-19.
Baldass, Ludwig. Hieronymus Bosch. Vienna, 1943: 22-23, 30, 36, 68, 76-77, 236, figs. 29-30. (Engl. ed. New York, 1960.)
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.)
Tervarent, Guy de. "The Origin of One of Jérôme Bosch's Pictures." Message: Belgian Review 39 (January, 1945): 44-45, fig. 1.
Combe, Jaques. Jérôme Bosch. Paris, 1946: 20-21, pl. 42. (Engl. ed. Paris, 1946.)
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.)
Frankfurter, Alfred. "Interpreting Masterpieces: Twenty-Four Paintings from the Kress Collection." Art News 50 (1952): 113-114, repro. 108.
Dorfles, Gillo. Bosch. Milan, 1953: 75, repro. 36, fig 21.
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.
Shapley, Fern Rusk. "The National Gallery of Art at Washington: Acquisitions 1945-1955." The Studio 150 (July 1955): 3, 6, repro.
Philip, Lotte Brand. Bosch. New York, 1956: 18, no. 14, repro. 19.
Walker, John. National Gallery of Art, Washington. New York, 1956: 38, color repro.
Shapley, Fern Rusk. Comparisons in Art: A Companion to the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC. London, 1957 (reprinted 1959): pl. 53.
Middeleeuwse Kunst der Noordelijke Nederlanden. Exh. cat. Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, 1958: 138-141, no. 180.
Linfert, Carl. Hieronymus Bosch: The Paintings. Garden City, New York, 1959: 10, 113, pl. 26.
Paintings and Sculpture from the Samuel H. Kress Collection. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1959: 280, repro.
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.
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.
Eisler, Colin. Primitifs Flamands. Corpus. New England Museums. Brussels, 1961: 48.
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.
Adhémar, Hélène. Le Musée National du Louvre, Paris: Primitifs Flamands, Corpus. 2 vols. Brussels, 1962: 1:25, 29.
Cairns, Huntington, and John Walker, eds., Treasures from the National Gallery of Art, New York, 1962: 60, color repro.
Winkler, Friedrich. Review of Primitifs Flamands. Corpus. New England Museums by Colin Eisler. In Kunstchronik 15 (1962): 321.
Walker, John. National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. New York, 1963 (reprinted 1964 in French, German, and Spanish): 127, repro. 126.
Summary Catalogue of European Paintings and Sculpture. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1965: 17.
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.
De Tolnay, Charles. Hieronymus Bosch. New York, 1966: 25, 347, cat. no. 7, repro. 91.
Lemmens, G., and E. Taverne. "Hieronymus Bosch: Naar aanleiding van de expositie in' s-Hertogenbosch." Simiolus 1 (1966-1967): 88.
Cinotti, Mia. Tout l'oeuvre peint de Jérôme Bosch. Paris, 1967: 92, no. 15, fig. 15 (Ital. ed. Milan, 1967).
Jheronimus Bosch. Exh. cat. Noordbrabants Museum,'s-Hertogenbosch, Eindhoven, 1967: no. 51.
Boon, Karel. "Review of Hieronymus Bosch by Charles de Tolnay." The Burlington Magazine 110 (1968): 157.
Cuttler, Charles D. Northern Painting, from Pucelle to Bruegel: Fourteenth, Fifteenth, and Sixteenth Centuries. New York, 1968: 201-202, fig. 252.
European Paintings and Sculpture: Illustrations (Companion to the Summary Catalogue, 1965). Washington, 1968: 9, repro.
Cuttler, Charles. "Bosch and the Narrenschiff: A Problem in Relationships." Art Bulletin 51, no. 3 (September 1969): 275-276, fig 8.
Reuterswärd, Patrik. Hieronymus Bosch. Stockholm, 1970: 173-174, 266-267, no. 19., figs. 35-36.
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).
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.
Gibson, Walter. Hieronymus Bosch. New York, 1973: 46-47, repro. 43, figs. 31-32.
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.
European Paintings: An Illustrated Summary Catalogue (National Gallery of Art). Washington, 1975: 36-37, no. 1112, repro.
Fraenger, Wilhelm. Hieronymus Bosch. Dresden, 1975: 296-297, figs. 93-94.
Rowlands, John. Bosch. London, 1975: 8, pl. 16.
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.
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).
Silver, Larry. "Power and Pelf: A New-Found Old Man by Massys." Simiolus 9 (1977): 87-88, fig. 24.
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.
Takashina, Shuji. L'oeuvre complet de Hieronymus Bosch. In Japanese. Tokyo, 1978: 246-247, no. 7, pls. 18-19.
Tervarent, Guy de. Attributs et symboles dans l'art profane 1450-1600. 2 vols. Geneva, 1978: 1:34.
Martin, Gregory. Hieronymus Bosch. New York, 1979: no. 7, repro.
Watson, Ross. The National Gallery of Art, Washington. New York, 1979: 54, pl. 37.
Unverfehrt, Gerd. Hieronymus Bosch: Die Rezeption seiner Kunst im frühen 16. Jahrhundert. Berlin, 1980: 26, 36, 44-45, 54, 78-79, 223.
Meijer, Bert W. "Titian Sketches on Canvas and Panel." Master Drawings 19 (1981): 284.
Graziani, René. "Bosch's Wanderer and a Poverty Commonplace from Juvenal." Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes 45 (1982): 212.
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.
Morganstern, Anne. "The Rest of Bosch's Ship of Fools." Art Bulletin 66 (1984): 299-302, figs. 4, 12.
Raupp, Hans Joachim. Untersuchungen zu Künstlerbildnis und Künstlerdarstellung in den Niederlanden im 17. Jahrhundert. Hildesheim and New York, 1984:
Walker, John. National Gallery of Art, Washington. Rev. ed. New York, 1984: 166, no. 184, color repro.
European Paintings: An Illustrated Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1985: 55, repro.
Snyder, James. Northern Renaissance Art: Painting, Sculpture, the Graphic Arts from 1350-1575. New York, 1985: 205, 201 color pl. 36.
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.
Covey, Herbert C. Images of Older People in Western Art and Society. New York, 1991: 155-157, fig. 41.
National Gallery of Art, Washington. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1992: 40, repro.
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.
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.
Richler, Martha. National Gallery of Art, Washington: A World of Art. London, 1997: 41, color fig. 22.
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.
McNamee, Maurice B. S.J. Vested Angels: Eucharistic Allusions in Early Netherlandish Paintings. Peeters, 1998: 182-187, repro. no. 95.
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.
Vinken, Pierre, and Lucy Schlüter. "The Foreground of Bosch's 'Death and the Miser'." Oud Holland 114, no. 2/4 (2000): 69-78, repro.
Hand, John Oliver. National Gallery of Art: Master Paintings from the Collection. Washington and New York, 2004: 118-119, no. 90, color repro.
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.
Freeman, Charles. Holy Bones, Holy Dust: How Relics Shaped the History of Medieval Europe. New Haven, 2011: x, fig. 17.
Paparella, Christopher, Heleen Vinken (co-author Lucy Schlüter). Icons and Enigmas: Investigations in Art. Amsterdam, 2014: 77-93, 114-115, fig. 1, 7.
Siegal, Nina. "Upon Closer Review, Credit Goes to Bosch." New York Times 165, no. 57,130 (February 2, 2016): C1.
Technical Summary

The panel has been thinned to a veneer (maximum thickness 0.15) and laminated to another wooden panel, which has been cradled in turn; according to Eisler this was done around 1900.[1] The painting was restored in Belgium sometime prior to 1951.[2] The top left corner has been replaced with a triangular piece of veneer. Two vertical splits run the length of the painting, one 3.7 cm from the left edge and the other 4.0 cm from the right edge. There are small scratches and indentations throughout the support. The paint layer has been damaged. There are large areas of loss and subsequent restoration in the head and upper body of the figure of Death; in the approximate center of the painting, extending vertically through the lid of the chest, the left corner of the bed, and into the bed-curtain and arm of the demon; and at the right edge to the right of the corner of the bed and the standing figure in green. Moreover, extensive retouchings are scattered throughout the painting, including a narrow strip over the split at the right, extending downward from the bottom of the green robe into the low wall in the foreground. Some of the retouching has discolored.

[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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