Written by Jonathan Wojcik
October 18: Things from Bosch's The Last Judgement!
Things from Bosch's The Last Judgement!
Continuing our look at the ludicrous imps and devils of Hieronymus Bosch, I'm running through my favorite details from his various "Last Judgement" paintings!
The Egg Man
I really enjoy the dramatic stare of this little weirdo, that "what the hell did I just get myself into" sort of look. It's like this impaled egg-monster is somehow confused and amazed by everything around him.
This is said to be a depiction of a brothel, but it's hard to tell who's a patron and who's a prostitute. The fat blue piper stands out the most, but I'm fond of the spindly insect-legged snake with the nude woman. Look for the smiling amphibian under the bed, too, looking like he totally isn't supposed ot be there and just wanted a peep.
The Dying Whore
This is cut off in most online images of the complete painting, but it's apparently supposed to show a "dying whore." I like the various amphibians and reptiles who all seem to be either arguing with each other or cheering on her impending demise. The other naked chick is like "what'd you expect? We're in hell!" The figure next to her looks kind of cute at first, like it has stubby flipper arms up in the air, but on closer inspection those are just vestigial wings, and it has its thin, spidery hands all over the other girl. From cute to incredibly unsettling, instantaneously.
I don't know who those disapproving nun-heads think they are, I mean, they're in hell too. They can't be much better people. Of course my favorite thing in this little corner of the abyss is the black facehugger-like organism, one of Bosch's only invertebrate-like beings.
This is an extremely small, easily missed detail. Looks like someone's walked herself into the wrong neighborhood. The really, really, really wrong neighborhood. Seriously. How did she even accomplish that?
This band of demonic fighters all look fairly cool, in particular that little axe-wielding maniac, though the bloody and blindfolded human head really sticks out with its almost hauntingly realistic detail. It doesn't even look like it belongs in the same painting as that comical, more stylized fish-turtle mount.
The Fish Rider
I realize that by now, we're quite accustomed to giant heads in weird helmets riding on fish with shoes, but isn't that just so wonderful?
The Man Hunters
We're getting into the gruesome stuff here with another victorious hunting party, this time carting a freshly slain human soul. Unfortunately, our spoonbill-headed hunter doesn't seem all that excited...he kind of looks like he had an entirely disappointing day out with the guys and just wants to get home, dump this jackass in his freezer and get enough sleep in time for work.
Faceless Sitar Guy
The demonic figure on the right here reminds me a lot of the stabbed head-monster from the Temptation of Saint Anthony. This one just has no visible facial features at all, just that one cartoonishly huge hand sticking out of its bundle-like body. The weapon is fairly interesting, with that long, thin needle already impaling a soul who seems to be pleading - albeit calmly - for mercy before the rest of the blade hits. Maybe he insulted the demon's Sitar-playing? I also love the whole design of that porcupine-frog creature.
I personally find this the most graphic and unpleasant detail in not only the Last Judgement, but across all Bosch's paintings. Again, the human remains seem to jump out at us, uncomfortably life-like in their fantastical surroundings. The roasting and frying of human beings is only made more horrid by the serene faces of these uncanny, abnormally proportioned, amphibian-skinned grannies.
"FOOOUND YOUUUU!" screams the dragon-dog with the huge knife through his neck. "You sure did!" says the damned soul, "can you help me out of these frogs?"
HALLOWEEN 2012 ARCHIVE: