2018 | 66 | 4: Historia sztuki - Selected Papers in English | 87-120
Article title

Fantasy or a Transcendent Experience? Study of the Painting Ascent into Heaven by Jheronimus Bosch from the Palazzo Ducale in Venice

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The Polish version of the article was published in “Roczniki Humanistyczne,” vol. 63 (2015), issue 4. The painting Ascent into Heaven (88.8 x 39.9 cm; dendrological dating: 1482–1490) kept in the Palazzo Ducale in Venice is one of the four eschatological panels (the other three are: Earthly Paradise, Fall of the Damned, Hell) which probably were in the collection of the Venetian Cardinal Domenico Grimani in the 1520s. The panels’ original arrangement and function are unknown. The paintings are not signed and their attribution to Jheronimus Bosch (c. 1450–1516 ) is based largely on the grounds of stylistic criteria. In the study, I put Ascent into Heaven into two fundamental contexts for the iconographic analysis of this work: eschatological literature and Netherlandish/ Flemish painting and in the context of near-death experiences (NDE) as well. The answer to the question posed in the title of the study must remain twofold. On the basis of the data gathered in the study, the content of the painting can be comprehended by references to the most frequently quoted sources of inspiration for Bosch: one painting by Dieric Bouts (left wing of the Last Judgement Altarpiece; Lille, Palais des Beaux Arts), two illuminations by Simon Marmion (Le livre des sept Ages du monde; Brussels, Bibliothèque royale de Belgique, Ms. 9047, fols. IV & 12r) and a literary work Dat rike der ghelieven by Jan van Ruusbroec. Its content can be equally understood by reference to the role of the painter’s imagination (categories of inventio and fantasia), using his theological and astronomical knowledge. The above line of interpretation that emphasizes the influence of biblical logosphere, takes into account undeniable religious experience of the painter from ‘s-Hertogenbosch resulting from being a member of the Church. The factor of an epistemological importance which influences the form of the answer to the title question is hypothetical non-verifiable Bosch’s personal transcendental experience, thus it becomes impossible to evaluate the translation of what is spiritual (experience) into visual (image). Due to the elusive, not fully scientific nature of NDE this phenomenon should be excluded from the final conclusion.
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