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Faculty Mentor

Deborah Barkun


An artist is often impossible to separate from their work. Hieronymus Bosch is no exception. His unique immersion in religion, alchemy, and art influenced and are portrayed in his paintings. By looking at his painting Tondal’s Vision under the scope of both religion and psychoanalysis, it reveals new discoveries and perspectives. The theoretical framework of psychoanalysis from author, Anne D’Alleva, aids in uncovering Bosch’s obsession with religious symbolism. This suggests that he is dealing with an underlying quarrel. By discovering the 1475 manuscript of Les Visions du Chevalier Tondal (The Visions of Tondal) it reveals who “Tondal” is through the story of a wealthy knight that goes on a journey through hell, purgatory, and heaven. With the images and the stories that are attached to The Visions of Tondal, it can be concluded that Bosch’s work was incited by this religious piece. My psychoanalytical reading, in conjunction with an analysis of the 1475 manuscript, leads me to argue that there is a strong sense of religious symbolism that is reflected in Bosch’s Tondal’s Vision. However, certain moments in Bosch’s painting can better be served through a psychoanalytical perspective. This specific analysis is only revealing certain moments in Tondal’s Vision, the rest of the painting deserves the same attention and perhaps from a different theoretical approach.


Presented as part of the Ursinus College Celebration of Student Achievement (CoSA) held April 22, 2021.

The downloadable file is a PowerPoint slide show with audio commentary.

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Available to all.