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The Last Judgement Triptych by Hieronymus Bosch in Vienna

Project leader:
Renate Trnek (Paintings Gallery)

Project partner:
Institute for Natural Sciences and Technology in the Arts (Academy of Fine Arts Vienna)

Funded by:
FWF - Austrian Science Fund | Stand-alone project (P23848)

FWF | Stand-alone project
led by Renate Trnek, Paintings Gallery
Duration: 1.10.2011 – 31.10.2015

One of the paintings held in the collection of the Gemäldegalerie of the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna is of international renown: The triptych known as "The Last Judgement" by Hieronymus Bosch This Artist holds a singular rank in art history at the breakup of Netherlandish late Gothic art, opening to new, "modern" developments of Renaissance art. He created a highly individual idiom in his picture language, starting basically from the canonized apparatus of religious painting in his times, but transforming that into images which touch us even today with their hopelessness concerning mankind and their distance from God. There are just 25 panels which are regarded as autograph by Bosch. Most of those works of art have been undergone a full scope research program including technical as well as art historical analysis with most modern instruments and means. There is just one painting by Bosch - and a very important one too - which lacks full research: the Vienna "Last Judgement Triptych".

This research gap will almost certainly become a serious issue for international Bosch researchers during the preparations surrounding the major exhibition to be held in 2016, centred around Bosch's hometown s'Hertogenbosch. With this perspective I would like as a long time director of the Gemäldegalerie bundle all my ideas and studies over the years and revise them thoroughly within the frame of a full scope research project. The Academy of fine Arts in Vienna houses a unique research cluster for art works in the Institute of Science and Technology in Art, headed by Manfred Schreiner. This creates an unmatched potential for collaborative work which we will use. During 24 months we intend to develop a clear picture of the physical condition of the triptych, of the conservation status of the paint, of the relation of painting to pentimenti. Parallel to the technical research I intend to find answers to the question of placing the Vienna triptych in the oeuvre of Bosch and to the "reading" of the very special iconographical program.