Trying to Keep it, Chris Stoffel Overvoorde

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Trying to Keep it*


Hieronymus Bosch (c. 1450 – 1516)

Death of the Miser (date?)

This print is based on the painting by Hieronymus Bosch, Death of the Miser.  Bosch may have painted this work as part of a series on the virtures and vices as he did in the Table Top of the Four Last Things and the Seven Deadly Sins. On the right hand side of the tabletop is the little circular image of a man on his deathbed. In the Death of the Miser we see the actual figure of death as he approaches the bed on the left side of the image. Devils as we as angels are all around, but the man is still accepting money from a devilish figure hovering near the left side of the bed, partially under the cover.  I have duplicated that part of the painting and have also maintained it as one of the focal points in the woodcut. Trying to Keep it* has to do with the power of money and the way it will sometimes possess us, sometimes till the very end.  Avarice is that kind of vice.  In the woodcut the bottom part is an echo of the top, in that it shows a more contemporary figure gathering his winnings. The power of money and possessions is still very much part of our culture, if not more so, than it was around 1500 when Bosch made this painting.

There are some additional personal parts in this print.  The devils who are sitting on the top of the bed, and are repeated in a smaller version on the partition farther down, are based on the small sculpture which hangs over my studio door. The devil is all around us, yes even in our studios and we are not isolated from him as artists.  The angel on the right side of the print is also present in my studio, for it hangs above the north window at the far end of my workspace.  Angels and devils are part of our world, be they spiritual, social, or economic in nature.

Trying to Keep it* also implies that God is at work in our world, both devils and angels are busy keeping our souls in the right place (?)  Not all is given up to the evil spirits.  Clearly in both works, the angel attempts to connect with the Savior -- in the window above in the print and on the left side in the painting.  The pointed arch shape on the top of the painting is also repeated in the shape of the print, further connecting the two works.

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