Balaam and the Ass

Location: not on view
You can copy, modify, and distribute this work, all without asking permission. Learn more about CMA's Open Access Initiative.

Download, Print and Share

Did You Know?

This work is mounted on panel, suggesting that it was once inlaid into a piece of furniture or wainscotting in a wealthy 16th-century home.


While this small miniature, made with watercolor on parchment, depicts a scene from the Old Testament in the left foreground, its primary subject is the expansive rural scene, landscape, and distant hillside city beyond. Hans Bol combined realistic city views, based on his onsite observation, with imaginary scenes and narratives, appealing to his late-16th-century urban Netherlandish audience. The story of the Balaam and the Ass was associated with greed in the period. The miniature was likely paired with other scenes highlighting contemporary moral issues to be displayed together in a domestic setting.
Balaam and the Ass

Balaam and the Ass


Hans Bol

(Flemish, 1534–1593)
Netherlands, 16th century


Balaam and the Ass

Visually Similar Artworks

Contact us

The information about this object, including provenance, may not be currently accurate. If you notice a mistake or have additional information about this object, please email

To request more information about this object, study images, or bibliography, contact the Ingalls Library Reference Desk.

All images and data available through Open Access can be downloaded for free. For images not available through Open Access, a detail image, or any image with a color bar, request a digital file from Image Services.