Rogier van der Weyden's Seven Sacraments Altarpiece depicts penance and the everyday rites of the Christian society that are executed from birth to death. Hieronymus Bosch's Table Top of the Seven Deadly Sins exhibits the seven sins engaged by people under the watchful eye of Christ that must be accounted for on judgement day. Both works are representations of the same important idea of penance. The apparent realism of artists such as Rogier van der Weyden and Hieronymus Bosch is more than mere imitation of the world they saw around them: it embodies a wealth of religious symbolism.
In the left wing of Rogier van der Weyden's Seven Sacraments Altarpiece the viewer can see how people are born into the supernatural life as sinners and must be baptized in order to receive grace from God, then are strengthened by confirmation and finally, recover the supernatural life lost by sin through penance. The painting was commissioned by the bishop of Tournai, Jean Chevrot, who can be seen in the left panel conducting confirmation. The right wing presents how people must be ready for the journey that will lead them to heaven through the last rites, how holy orders provide ministers for the church, and matrimony. In the center panel the scene of the Crucifixion, the fundamental act of redemption, is shown. The exercise of the sacraments are meant to strengthen and nourish one's faith. The Seven Sacraments Altarpiece serves as a visual representation of institutional devotion. One must physically be present in the Church and must fulfill these sacraments in order to free oneself of his/her sins.
Hieronymus Bosch's Table Top of the Seven Deadly Sins was formerly owned by Philip II and now resides in the Prado. The topic of this painting consists of theological warnings through allegorical depictions of stories about the vices from the Bible. This panel serves as a warning meant to intimidate one into redemption. Christ is pictured in the center bearing the marks of...
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