Master Paintings Part II

Master Paintings Part II

View full screen - View 1 of Lot 510. Christ in Limbo.

16th Century Follower of Hieronymous Bosch

Christ in Limbo

Lot Closed

January 30, 03:10 PM GMT


80,000 - 120,000 USD

Lot Details


16th Century Follower of Hieronymous Bosch

Christ in Limbo

oil on panel

panel: 15 1/8 by 20 1/4 in.; 38.4 by 51.5 cm.  

framed: 20 by 25 in.; 50.8 by 63.5 cm.  

With Fritz Steinmeyer, Lucerne (according to an annotation on a photograph in the Friedländer archive);
With Galerie Sanct Lucas, Vienna, by 1935;
Private collection, Geneva;
Anonymous sale, Geneva, Galerie George Moos, 6 May 1950, lot 26 (as Herri Met de Bles);
De Toledo collection, Geneva;
With Derek Johns Ltd., London (as Peter Huys);
From whom acquired, 2015.

Infernal subjects such as Christ in Limbo, an episode described in the apocryphal Gospel of Nicodemus, were vividly explored by the Flemish painter Hieronymous Bosch (1453 – 1516). Such themes lent themselves well to his intriguing compositions as well as his diabolical and outlandish creatures, all of which would serve as an endless source of inspiration for generations of artists to follow, including the artist of the present panel. Early sources confirm that Bosch explored a subject similar to this in at least four paintings, all now lost, two of which were in the collection of King Philip II of Spain.

This colorful and detailed panel shares visual affinities in both style and composition with two of Bosch’s most well-known followers, Pieter Huys (circa 1500 -1560) and Jan Mandijn (1519-1584).2 It illustrates the moment that Christ, having torn asunder the gates of hell, delivers the redeemed from purgatory. A brightly illuminated Christ stands at center, wearing a red mantle and holding a victory banner, surrounded by the similarly illuminated souls that he will bring with him to Heaven. Filling the composition around these figures are a variety of odd and somewhat curious creatures, from the crowned mouse peering from the castle tower, to the monsters flying the boat through the sky, to the armored critter crawling in the foreground. 


1. See L. Campbell, The early Flemish pictures in the collection of Her Majesty the Queen, Cambridge 1985, p. 11, under cat. no. 7.

2. This painting was acquired as by Pieter Huys, and it is listed on the RKD as an artist in the circle of Jan Mandyn.