BOSCH, Hieronymus
(b. ca. 1450, 's-Hertogenbosch, d. 1516, 's-Hertogenbosch)

Paradise: Ascent of the Blessed

Oil on panel, 86,5 x 39,5 cm
Palazzo Ducale, Venice

The actual entry of the saved into Heaven is depicted on a separate panel presenting a vision of celestial joy. Shedding the last vestige of their corporeality, the blessed souls float upwards through the night, scarcely supported by their angelic guides. They gaze with ecstatic yearning towards the great light which bursts through the darkness overhead. This funnel-shaped radiance, with its distinct segments, probably owes much to contemporary zodiacal diagrams, but in Bosch's hands it has become a shining corridor through which the blessed approach that final and perpetual union of the soul with God which is experienced on earth only in rare moments of spiritual exaltation.