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The Pedlar

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  • Sankalp asked

    I have a different interpretation. If the pedlar is so prepared with his bag, spoon, dagger, purse etc then why are his shoes mis-matched ? This makes me think that we could have left in a hurry. Though it was a pre-meditated move to go away. That makes me believe that the house in the background is his own. Its very early in the morning indicated by the owl in the tree (night bird) and maybe by the pigs feeding. Also the old man peeing beside the house could indicate early morning. The man might have wanted to sneak out of the house without a sound but something went wrong. The family/housemates got alerted. One of them barely got time to come till the door and just peaking form the window. The boy stopping the girl (possibly the son stopping the mother) from trying to stop the man. The man might have packed everything the last night but in the last moment, in a hurry he just wore any shoes he could find and left. Possibly he is running form his responsibilities (broken house, dysfunctional family). Maybe he is cause of all misery that the son feels its better that he goes away. The emotional mother irrespective of all things would still want her man to be with her.

    Open to criticism. Please find inconsistencies to rule out this interpretation.

    PS: This is my favourite piece of art !

  • Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen answered

    Dear Sankalp,
    Nice to hear that you like this artwork so much. Thank you for sharing your interpretation with us. Technical research tells us that the painting originally covered the exterior of the wings of a triptych. It looks very similar to the exterior of the Haywain-Triptych. This is why scholars think it has also a similar iconography. Many scholars have written about the interpretation of paintings of Jheronimus Bosch. You can find literature about this subject in our library. You can also watch this movie about the interpretation of this painting: https://www.arttube.nl/videos/de-marskramer-in-close-up.
    Kind regards,
    Esther

  • Mira asked

    Hi there, is this painting also known as 'The Wayfarer'?

  • Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen answered

    Hi Mia,
    Yes, it is! The painting has several titles, but 'The Pedlar' is the one currently used by Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen.
    Best wishes,
    Jephta

  • Bettina Semoff asked

    Hello,
    after my litterary researches (according to Stefan Fischer, who wrote in German a Monographie about Bosch, 2016) the middle panel was the 'marriage of kana' , also by H.Bosch. Could this be possible? Thanks, yours B.S., Munich-Germany

  • Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen answered

    Dear Bettina,
    Indeed, some scholars believe that ‘the Pedlar’ was part of a larger whole that included ‘the Marriage of Kana’. This idea was first brought to the fore by Johannes Hartau in an article in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung in 2001. Hartau later expanded his argument in the article 'Das neue Triptychon von Hieronymus Bosch als Allegorie über den unnützen Reichtum', in Zeitschrift für Kunstgeschichte 68 (2005), pp. 305-338. Our curator of old Paintings and Sculptures Friso Lammertse is, however, not convinced by this interpretation.
    ‘The Marriage of Kana’ painting that is referred to is not the painting with the same name in the collection of Boijmans van Beuningen, which is a copy executed after Bosch’ death, presumably after a lost original.
    Kind regards,
    Jephta

  • Jane asked

    What does the skinned cat hanging on the wicker basket mean?

  • Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen answered

    Hi Jane, thanks for your question! As with all the objects in this painting, we suspect certain symbolic meanings, but we can never be completely sure. The skinned cat could stand for women of easy virtue (the man being the cat hunter / womanizer) but pedlars are also known to sell cat skins, so it could also simply be attributed to the main subject being a pedlar. Best, Rianne

  • Yang asked

    I've heard that this work was once exterior panels for a triptych with wings known as 'Ship of Fools' and 'Death and Miser' in the past. Is it an official conclusion of scientific analysis?

  • Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen answered

    Dear Yang, yes this is true. We know that the inside of the left panel showed the now seperated 'Ship of Fools' (Louvre, Paris) and 'Allegory of Intemperance' (Yale University), and the inside of the right panel showed 'Death and the Miser' (National Gallery of Art, Washington). On the back of these panels 'The Pedlar' was shown. What was depicted on the center panel is unknown but it is highly likely that this panel had a religious theme. Best, Rianne Schoonderbeek

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More information
  • How did it get here?

This vagabond or pedlar with mismatched shoes is symbolic of man on his path through life. He is a kind of 'Everyman' a popular late 15th century moral tale. He represents the 'homo viator', the pilgrim who goes through life weighed down by the baggage of his earthly existence. He suffers his lot along a path full of temptations.

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Collection book

Collection book Order

Specifications

Title The Pedlar
Material and technique Oil on panel
Object type
Painting > Painting > Two-dimensional object > Art object
Location This object is in storage
Dimensions Height 71 cm
Length 70.6 cm
Artists Schilder: Jheronimus Bosch
Accession number 1079 (OK)
Credits Verworven met steun van / Acquired with the support of: Vereniging Rembrandt, D.G. van Beuningen, F.W. Koenigs en/and J.P. van der Schilden 1931
Department Old Masters
Acquisition date 1931
Age artist Between 45 and 60 years old
Exhibitions The Collection Enriched (2011)
De ontdekking van het dagelijks leven - van Bosch tot Bruegel (2015)
De collectie als tijdmachine (2017)
BABEL - Oude meesters terug uit Japan / Old Masters Back from Japan (2018)
Van Eyck tot Bruegel (1994)
External exhibitions Jheronimus Bosch – Visioenen van een genie (2016)
Collection of Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen – Bruegel’s ‘The Tower of Babel’ and Great 16th Century Masters (2017)
Research Alma
Material
Object
Geographical origin Northern Netherlands > The Netherlands > Western Europe > Europe

Please note: The metadata of this object have not been checked.
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All about the artist

Jheronimus Bosch

Den Bosch circa 1450 - Den Bosch 1516

Jeroen Bosch was probably born around 1450 in Den Bosch as Jheronimus van Aken. When his fame as artist had spread throughout Europe, he adopted the name of the...

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