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Death and the Miser, Oil by Hieronymus Bosch (1450-1516, Netherlands)
Death and the Miser is a Hieronymus Bosch painting. It is currently in the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. This painting is the inside of the right panel of a divided triptych. The other existing portions of the triptych are The Ship of Fools and Allegory of Gluttony and Lust. Death and the Miser belongs to the tradition of the memento mori, which works to warn the beholder of the inevitability of death. The painting also shows the influence of popular 15th-century handbooks on the art of dying (the Ars moriendi), designed to remind Christians that they must choose between sinful pleasures and the way of Christ. As Death looms on his threshold, the miser, unable to resist worldly temptations even in his last minutes of life, reaches for the bag of gold offered to him by a demon while an angel points to a crucifix, inviting the man to turn to Christ. In the foreground, Bosch depicts the miser storing gold in his money chest while clutching his rosary. Symbols of worldly power a helmet, sword, and shield allude to earthly follies. The depiction of such still-life objects to symbolize earthly vanity, transience, or decay would become a genre in itself among 17th-century Flemish artists.