Ascension in the Empire, Visions of the Hereafter. Part of the altar by Hieronymus Bosch

Ascension in the Empire, Visions of the Hereafter. Part of the altar by Hieronymus Bosch

There is an opinion that these are fragments of two different altars, where “The overthrow of sinners” merged with “Ascension into the Empire”, and “Hell’s River” – with “Terrestrial Paradise”. Striving to express the essence of the divine in forms and colors, not transmitted by words, Bosch uses the light masterfully as the main expressive element: he appears as a pillar of fire, then flashes of flame, and in the scene “Ascension into the Empire” turns into a dazzling corridor-funnel. The Earthly Paradise is right under Heavenly Paradise.

This

is an intermediate stage, where the righteous are cleansed from the last spots of sin, before they appear before the Most High. The depicted, accompanied by angels, march to the source of life. Those who are already saved look to heaven. In “Ascension to Empires”, disembodied souls who have got rid of all earthly things rush to the bright light shining above their heads. This is the last thing that separates the souls of the righteous from eternal merging with God, from the “absolute depth of the revealed divinity”.

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