The right shutter “Hell” of the triptych “The Last Judgment” of Hieronymus Bosch depicts sinners condemned by God. According to Bosch most of the human race expects hellfire, torment, groaning and gnashing of teeth. Such is the terrible fate. which God has prepared for mankind.
On this subject, Bosch has created many impressive paintings, but the most powerful in effect, perhaps, is the one on the right wing of this triptych. Here there is a characteristic for Bosch imagery, although the overall impression is somewhat disjointed. Nevertheless, in details the artist shows an amazing
The irrevocability of the Doomsday was realized by all believers, but could everyone hope for salvation from the horrible torments that await the hardened sinners? The Viennese “Last Judgment” of Bosch draws the human inheritance in the most gloomy colors. It is in the spirit of Thomas of Kemp, who exclaimed in his “Imitation of Christ”: “If the love of God does not keep you from sin, then at least keep the fear of Hell.”
According to the mystic writers, sinful souls in Hell will suffer most from the knowledge that they are forever deprived of the happiness to contemplate God. However, for Bosch, as for most of his contemporaries, the inevitable infernal punishment was expressed primarily in physical torment. Many punishments are directly related to certain sins and are derived from medieval literary sources. In this tradition, the lazy devils are squashed on the anvil, the killers are boiling in the cauldron over low heat, the miser is stringed on a skewer, the glutton is forced to drink a disgusting swill, and the proud – to rotate the wheel forever.
On the day of the Second Coming, the dead will rise from their graves and Christ will judge everyone, rewarding everyone “according to his works.” The righteous will inherit the Kingdom that was prepared for them from the creation of the world, and they will go to eternal life, and the sinners will go to the fire and the eternal flour, prepared for Satan and his henchmen. And the fantasy of Bosch again manifests itself truly unlimited. The earth becomes indistinguishable from Hell, from where the devil’s hordes of Satan come to meet the sinners. The paintings of the tortures of the earth seem even more frightening than the pictures of the torment of hell.