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Hieronymus Bosch


One of the Greatest Painters Of All Time

Northen Renaissance  Netherlandish painter 

 The most intriguing artist in the history of the world


 Hieronymus Bosch was Born as Jeroen van Aken although he signed his paintings as Jheronimus Bosch in order to bring recognition to his birthplace,  Hertogenbosch, a small town in the province of North Brabant in Holland. Bosch made himself a name as a visionary.  He had a taste for the  poetic and his use of symbols are secretive hints and glances into the mysterious world that lies behind the painted one. All those grimacing images which were customary in medieval decorative art, especially in the stone ornaments of Gothic cathedrals and the wood carvings of choir stalls, were transferred by him to panel painting. He is especially fond of  giving fishes the wings of bats and of creating strange monstrosities by commingling the forms of animals and vessels. His practice of them the form of an alter is characteristic of their significance. Whether he presents the seven Deadly Sins, the Ship of Fools, the Pleasures of the World or the Temptation of St. Anthony, it is always a sermon beginning with the fall of man and ending with hell. At a time when gluttony and wild sensuality followed upon the mortifications of the flesh, he swung the heavy moral club and practiced the art of  " hanging people in colors".  Bosch painted the same Capuchin sermons with which Sebastian Brandt, Geiler von Kaisersperg, and Thomas Murner regaled their listeners.

Like Quentin Massys, he was also fond of painting biblical scenes in half-size figures, in which he appears as a sharp and malicious physiognomist. His line engravings, Gluttony, Avarice, and Drunkenness are further examples in which fantastical genre painting, though under an allegorical cloak, ventures forth. Themes like the dance of the cripples, surgical operations, and quack doctors became especially popular in painting.

During his lifetime Hieronymus Bosch was a celebrated and respected master painter. His work was commissioned and collected by royalty, the church and wealthy patrons.
It is a foolish myth to believe that the intellectual Boshe spent his entire artistic career in the small Dutch town of Hertogenbosch.  It is documented that he was commissioned by Philip the Handsome and to suppose the powerful King came to some rude cottage to sit for a portrait is absurd.  

Hieronymus was a widely traveled, highly educated man.   Boshe was extremely influential within his circle of local painters and fine craftsmen.  While it is true that  Hieronymus was a member of a extreme religious society called the Brotherhood of Mary, it is also true that everyone of distinction belonged to this  society. He received a number of financially lucrative commissions from the Brotherhood.  There is speculation that Hieronymus may have been  a member of the notorious Brethren of the Free Spirit, also known as Adamites, an obscure cult which practiced free love, wanton promiscuity and same sex encounters in an effort to achieve the purity of the Adam and Eve before the fall.

 It is understandable that later generations accused him of heresy because they didn't comprehend his great visionary works.


Important Words, People, Phrases, Characteristics related to the Northern Renaissance Art Movement -  allegorical painting,  rebirth, invention of oil painting,   Hieronymus Bosch, Limbourg Brothers, Desiderius Erasmus,  Robert Campin, Jan Van Eyck, Jean Fouquet, Albrecht Dürer, Johannes Gutenberg, Johann Reuchlin, Martin Luther, rise of the merchant class,  Protestant Reformation, Calvinisim, glazing, impasto, scriptorium, illuminator, invention of the printing press, woodcuts, engravings, Antwerp School, Guild of Saint Luke, commerce, Flemish School, Northern Europe, Antwerp School, Flanders, Bruges, renewed interest in classical learning,  mythological scenes, genre painting, landscapes, portraits, moralizing overtones, human vices, lust, paradise, spirituality, piousness, living a simple life, reformHuman Reasoning,  tradesmen at work, idyllic scenes of peasantsplaying games, feasting,  linear perspective, \Heliocentric Theory, humour, satire,  spiritually significant, illuminated manuscriptidealized biblical themes, scriptorium, emotion, illuminator,  iconoclast, Age of Discovery, Virgin and Child, axonometric drawing, curiosity about the natural world,  realistic use of colours and lightOld Testament stories, Gospel parables, The Blackdeath,  Christian symbolism


Guest Comments:

Hieronymus Bosch's use of symbolism does not diverge much from other Medieval artists. He illustrates malicious demons cavorting about whilst engaging in immoral behavior. I wonder how the church reacted to this work? One wants to look away but finds himself pulled into the erotic imagery. Bosch's art is exceptional for the distinctive and complex nightmarish world he rendered with such incredible skill. -- Cherri O' Brian, Charleston, South Carolina


Hieronymus Bosch is rare in that he depicted his revelations and prophecies for the world to see. I believe his work has survived for a reason. Bosch's phantasmagoric images of rapture and torment have a extraordinary importance in the 21st century. As an artist he exhibited a vision that was grim, immeasurable in scope and divine. -- Ella R. Rissole, NYC, New York


Hieronymus's paintings are an intricate and rich matrix of both mystery and discovery. His work is "internally" directed and can only be described as 'fantastic' and 'visionary'. Some figures are carefully rendered; others evolve more playfully and seem thrown into the composition. I have 5 Heironymus Bosch prints and have found that they change each time I look at them. -- Captain Raymont Timothy Grimm, Denver, Colorado


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ref.The Story of Bruges by Ernest Gilliat-Smith