• Christies auction house James Christie logo

    Sale 7448

    Old Master and British Pictures

    7 December 2007, London, King Street

  • Lot 111

    Follower of Hieronymus Bosch

    The Harrowing of Hell

    Price Realised  

    Estimate

    Follower of Hieronymus Bosch
    The Harrowing of Hell
    oil on panel, unframed
    14½ x 21 in. (37 x 53.3 cm.)


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    The composition relates to a group of paintings depicting The Harrowing of Hell by followers of Bosch, most notably that in the Royal Collection, Hampton Court (inv. no. 941); that in the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna (inv. no. 2715); and that in the Museum of Art, Indianapolis (inv. no. 63.10), there attributed to Pieter Huys. Elements of that composition were also incorporated in the panel of The Last Judgement in Tudela Cathedral, Navarre (see E. Bermejo, La pintura de los Primitivos flamencos en España, II, Madrid, 1982, p. 129, fig. 171). Gerd Unfervehrt (Hieronymus Bosch: Die Rezeption seiner Kunst im frühen 16. Jahrhundert, Berlin, 1980, p. 289) believed the prime of the group to be the Vienna painting, which he attributed to a follower of Bosch who may have taken details of the composition from prototypes by Bosch that are now lost.

    As recorded by Lorne Campbell (The Pictures in the Collection of Her Majesty the Queen. The Early Flemish Pictures, Cambridge, 1985, p. 11, under no. 7), four apparently different pictures of this or closely related subjects are mentioned in early sources as by Bosch. In 1574, King Philip II of Spain gave to the Escorial 'Una tabla prolongada, en que está pintada la Baxada de Christo nuestro Señor al Imbo y cómó los Sanctos Padres ... es de mano de Gerónimo Bosque'. The 1595 inventory of the collection of the Archduke Ernst at Brussels lists a 'Crucifix darunter ein Fusz von Linbo Patrum' by Bosch. At his death in 1598, Philip II still owned 'Una pintura de pincel, al ollio, sobre tabla, de Christo cuando resucitó al Limbo, con muchas figuras y disparates de Gerónimo Bosco...' Lastly Van Mander records a painting by Bosch of 'de Wael een Helle daer de oude Vaders verlost worden en Judas die oock mede meent uyt trecken wort met een strick opghetrocken en ghehanghen...' That one of those pictures, all now lost, may have been Bosch's prototype is therefore a real possibility.

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