- Inventory number
- Patinir, Joachim
- Crossing the River Styx
- 64 cm x 103 cm
- On display
- Colección Real (probablemente colección de Felipe II; Real Alcázar, Madrid, cuarto bajo con ventana al Jardín de la Priora, 1636; salvado del incendio del Alcázar, 1734; Palacio del Buen Retiro, Madrid, 1789, nº 353).
According to classical tradition, Charon, the boatman carried the souls of those entering Tartarus or Hades across the River Styx in his boat. In medieval Christendom this subject was made sacred by converting it into a choice between good and evil. Here, Patinir places an angel on the left side to point out the difficult path to Paradise, despite the fact that the soul is already on its way to Hell, whose entrance is guarded by Cerberus, the dog with three heads.
The fantastic vision of Paradise on the left bank, with its glass architecture in the background, as well as the depiction of Hell clearly recall Hieronymus Bosch.
The raised point of view causes the horizon to be very high, leaving plenty of space for the development of the subject, which allows Patinir to exercise his technical skills as a landscape painter.