Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Hieronymus Bosch

Bosch was a Dutch/Netherlandish draughtsman and painter from Brabant. He is widely considered one of the most notable representatives of Early Netherlandish painting school. His work is known for its fantastic imagery, detailed landscapes, and illustrations of religious concepts and narratives.Within his lifetime his work was collected in the Netherlands, Austria, and Spain, and widely copied, especially his macabre and nightmarish depictions of hell.

Little is known of Bosch's life, though there are some records. He spent most of it in the town of 's-Hertogenbosch, where he was born in his grandfather's house. The roots of his forefathers are in Nijmegen and Aachen (which is visible in his surname: Van Aken). His pessimistic and fantastical style cast a wide influence on northern art of the 16th century, with Pieter Bruegel the Elder being his best-known follower. His paintings have been difficult to translate from a modern point of view; attempts to associate instances of modern sexual imagery with fringe sects or the occult have largely failed. Today he is seen as a hugely individualistic painter with deep insight into humanity's desires and deepest fears. Attribution has been especially difficult; today only about 25 paintings are confidently given to his hand along with 8 drawings. Approximately another half dozen paintings are confidently attributed to his workshop. His most acclaimed works consist of a few triptych altarpieces, the most outstanding of which is The Garden of Earthly Delights.

Although his paintings were based on the bible, his cruel machines and invented monsters and tortured people show a dim view of suffering humanity. It is easy to see why Bosch has been credited as a powerful influence on 20th-century Surrealism. For a painter who has been so influential, it's amazing how little we really know about him. Maybe it's better that way. It would be quite a let down if this painter of fiends and devils would turn out to be a most boring fellow.

Catherine B. Scallen, The Art of the Northern Renaissance (Chantilly: The Teaching Company, 2007) Lecture 26

The Esoteric Meaning of Bosch

Vision of Hell lives on

1 comment:

Carla Ives said...

I knew of Bosch. To me, the works I've seen have been. . . shall we say strange? I am most familiar with his Garden of Earthly Delights, but have seen others. I think that's the image that comes to mind when you think Hieronymous Bosch. I agree with you in that maybe it's better if we don't know the inner workings of a mind who could conjure images like these.