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Hieronymus Bosch Art Documentary with Brian Sewell

in the year 1500 the continent of Europe
was poised to leave the Middle Ages
behind and enter a brave new chapter of
history the decades that followed can
now be seen as the birth of our own
modern age it was a time of discovery
both geographically and intellectually
in art the spirit of the Renaissance
flourished especially in the great
cities of Italy it was a time when
reason and science began to take over
from superstition and myth and Europe
would never be the same again as the
sixteenth century began the old way of
life still persisted both here in Italy
and across the Alps in northern Europe
in the Netherlands as elsewhere the
medieval spirits still determined much
of everyday life and it was this that
inspired one of the most remarkable
artists of all time
a man who recognized the follies of man
and sought to warn against them in often
horrific terms a man whose own
Christianity was mixed with the folklore
of the time and expressed through his
own artistic genius this was the first
of the Dutch masters Hieronymus Bosch
the Dutch tradition of painting is one
of the most enduring features in the
history of Western art for centuries the
lands of modern Holland and Belgium have
been a focal point of truly great
artistic achievement by 1450 the
Netherlands had already produced
painters of the caliber of Rajee eighth
and Avedon and yon fan Ike just two of
many great artists of the age during the
1400s and early 1500s
donar portraits and religious
commissions generated work for a large
number of Dutch painters whose skills
were often concentrated within families
one such family lived in the city of
certain Bosch near Antwerp in what was
then the Duchy of Brabant we know that
by the Year 1431 a man named Jonathan
Arkin became established as a painter
here and four of his five sons also
became successful artists Yun fan Arkans
grandson euro one became the best known
member of the family and today we know
by the name he adopted a name derived
from that of his home city Hieronymus
Bosch we do not know why hero and fan
Arkin adopted his working title but this
lack of knowledge is not altogether
surprising details of Bosh's life are
extremely scarce virtually nothing about
him is known for sure
the SPECT he was born in the hurt oven
Bosch around the Year 1450 and it is
likely he remained here all his life we
also know that he married a wealthy
woman around 1480 and that he was a
member of a local religious order the
Brotherhood of Our Lady his death in
1516 completes his historical record but
beyond these few scanty details the life
of Hieronymus Bosch is almost a total
mystery it is through the concerns of
his art we must attempt to identify the
concerns of his life he's one of his men
in Netherlandish pentose whose birth
date we don't know and there will be or
other uneasy about attempting any kind
of dating of the early work we assume
that he was born in 1425 or 1430
somewhere in there bracket because the
document establishing him as an artist
I'll say at a sort of time when most are
joining the guild of sand Luke and on
there's wedding contract and a dispute
with a relative by marriage and so on
these are little things survived and we
know that he died in 1516 and that's
what it and into that we have to fit an
extraordinary body of work nobody's ever
known how to do it and everybody sets
out to do it with absolute authority you
compare one Authority with another and
nothing fits what we know about him is
small fragments fragments for example
which Caliban manda mentions in his life
of a film it's a very very short life I
mean it basically two pages and it tells
us a few things about his technique it
tells us a few things about about some
works here's Don portunities works
having survived we do not know
is it we even buy him because you know
Calvin manda died rotis his text
something like a bit lessons hundred
years after Bosch himself had died by
the mid 14 70s Hieronymus Bosch was
active as an artist and his earliest
surviving works reveal artistic concern
that would also feature in his greatest
work like many of the painters of the
time the young bosch turned to the bible
for his subject matter as we can see
with this panel illustrating the wedding
feast at Cana st. John's Gospel
describes the wedding feast at Cana as
the setting for one of Christ's
best-known miracles the turning of water
into wine in Bosh's painting the welcome
consequences of the miracle can be
clearly seen as can the divine figure of
Christ himself but this is not an
overwhelmingly spiritual image a strong
sense of flawed humanity revealed itself
with symbolism contributing strongly to
the effect
Bosh's contemporaries would have
immediately recognized the spitting Swan
as a symbol of sexual promiscuity and
the presence of the magician reminds
modern viewers that many medieval folk
had faith in more than just the power of
in 15th century Europe belief in magic
was a widespread phenomenon and Bosch
chose to address the subject in
paintings such as the conjurer also from
early in his career here we witness a
scene whose message is more immediate
than that of the Cana wedding a conjurer
apparently produces a frog from the
mouth of the man whose faith in the
power of magic is comically obvious but
the conjurer has no real magic powers
instead he is a trickster who uses the
Frog as a cunning ploy to distract
attention while his accomplish picks the
pocket of the mesmerised man we can
still appreciate the humor of this
painting because the foolishness of men
did not die out with the Middle Ages
many of bosses study of human folly
express sentiments still relevant today
although the immediate subject matter
can often be obscure this small panel
provides an example what is illustrated
here is a bizarre medical phenomenon
often referred to in medieval Dutch
folklore stupidity was thought to be
cured by removing the so called stone of
folly from the head although the idea of
the stone of folly had no scientific
basis whatever many people believed in
it and it is easy for us to laugh at the
misplaced faith of this gullible
medieval patient however we cannot be
honest and claim that our own times are
entirely free from strange beliefs it
may be that future generations will
laugh at present-day practices such as
astrology or palm reading we cannot tell
how our own age will come to be regarded
what we can recognize is that there is a
timeless element to Bosch images such as
the artist is revealing himself as a man
who is undoubtedly the product of his
own contemporary world but he is also
outside of that world an artist who
holds up a mirror to the follies of men
we can therefore see Hieronymus Bosch as
following in an enduring literary
tradition a fool whose wisdom is
ultimately greatest of all around that
time there was a tradition in writing
and art about the human beings all being
fools there was the ship of fools by the
bust implant which a Bosch probably knew
it was translated into other languages
it was actually published in 1494 in
Basel and he himself paints a ship of
fools and there you've got the fool
sitting in the rigging on the whole boat
is peopled by intoxicated men and woman
and center stage actually are a nun and
a monk so he's actually attacking you
know the church in that way as well and
there was also a proverb in a proverbial
boat in the Netherlands because the blue
board which was always peopled by
everybody drunk the humor of Hieronymus
Bosch is often easily understood but his
widespread use of contemporary symbols
is less easy for the modern viewer to
appreciate we may never know what the
artists intentions were when he decided
to place a funnel upon the head of this
bogus surgeon while the significance of
the book on the nun's head is also
obscure bashas regular use of arcane
symbolism is a difficulty that faces the
modern student of his art but it is not
the only difficulty significantly Bosch
chose not to date his works this means
that we cannot be sure when he created
images like ship of fools another highly
symbolic scene
of human self-indulgence and folly I
think it's very difficult to actually
fix the chronology and nobody's quite
certain so usually his works are divided
into three periods kind of loose period
starting in 1474 to avoid 1485 and then
to 1510 and the last one to his death in
1516 because the thing is a lot of his
paintings have been over painted and
there's been quite a lot of damage as
well so it's quite difficult even to
detect you know the technical ways of
his painting quite often uses very thin
I suppose that's one of the
characteristics of his work and if we're
taking it at a very simple level one can
probably say in answer to the chronology
that he did a very simple depiction of
Hell in the seven deadly sins the
tabletop and it's become much more
sophisticated in the hell wing in the
Garden of Earthly Delights so the one is
considered to be earlier than the other
if you write down the chronology
proposed by Colin I buy us any other
expert and compare them they make
absolutely no sense they're not really
within reach of each other it seems to
be the tumors do a number of slightly
experimental things who take the early
work or what he presumed to be the early
work and compare it with what was
happening in the Netherlands what we
knew what was happening in the
Netherlands in the work of other
painters and we will find that there are
parallels sort of ways of constructing
figures and we're dealing with
perspective there are ways of distorting
pictorial space which are common to a
whole host of not very good painter
the efforts of art historians have
established how the paintings of
Hieronymus Bosch evolved throughout his
working life but some aspects of his art
were with him from the beginning these
include the Keen humor and strong
symbolism that we have already seen the
follies of man would also be a recurring
element of his work as well as folly
Bosch also concerned himself with the
darker business of sin the terrible
punishments that lay in store for the
sinner the paintings produced from this
preoccupation with sin would
revolutionize the world of art forever
nothing like it had ever been seen
before and no artist has ever matched
wash's unique vision of hell and
damnation the impact of these scenes
remains as strong today as ever we might
call some of these horrors unimaginable
were it not for the fact that Bosch had
imagined them these nightmare visions
are for many the greatest achievement of
Hieronymus Bosch but with this visual
representation of the seven deadly sins
we see humor prevailing over horror
created early in his career the seven
deadly sins was painted in oils on a
panel intended for use as a tabletop now
in Madrid's Prado Museum the work is
dominated by a circle whose Center
represents the eye of God beholding the
image or his son Jesus Christ
below are the Latin words for beware
beware God sees which is unfortunate for
the individuals depicted in the seven
major frames that comprise the outer
circle all of them are engaged in sin
with each frame representing a different
transgression in a series of
contemporary genre scenes the message of
each frame is clear here
anger is represented by an altercation
between two men whose obvious
disagreement may well have been fuelled
by drink consumed in the background
tavern similarly it does not take long
to establish that these pleasure loving
individuals are guilty of the sin of
but this circle of sin strikes the
modern viewer as almost quaint in
character amusing rather than
threatening it may be that borsch
intended to evoke such a response from
contemporary viewers Bush was a moralist
and it was a moralist in some way
obsessed by the devil the devil for him
was everywhere as a since we're
everywhere and this is in fact what he
represented in his paintings I mean all
the forms the seven deadly sins for
example which is a major theme in his
work these were the sins which would
take you to edit without a confession I
mean certainly for him that was the
reality of the things and he certainly
would have believed that people were
punished in hell as he showed it in fact
in one of his paintings would be akin to
the sins that would have done during
life Bosh was very much like a medieval
preacher on these medieval preachers
would actually tell an extortion
stories funny stories to keep the
attention of the congregation and in
that way I think he works just on this
in the same way and tells things in
possibly more humorous manner but it all
has a very moral purpose in the end it
is only outside the center circle that
the seven deadly sins reveals the sense
of menace it would characterize much of
Bosh's greatest work in the corners are
four more circles depicting the so
four last things of man death Last
Judgment heaven and the ultimate
destination of the sinner hell
unsurprisingly this is not a pleasant
scene if sinners forced to endure
punishments for the misdeeds of their
lifetimes as terrible fires rage in the
background though effective in the
context of the overall tabletop this
small image only hints at the horrors to
come in the work of Hieronymus Bosch
here we see another later image of the
fires of hell which again provide the
background for the sufferings of the
Damned looking at this scene we can
begin to appreciate the kind of
hellscape forever associated with Bosch
but we should also recognize that this
is just one component of the complete
work of art it forms the right-hand
panel of a series of three paintings on
the left is a scene of paradise by the
large central panel is the whole piece
it's named the Last Judgement time and
again Bosch executed his work in this
threefold format popular at the time the
triptych the triptych is
kind of well organized form of
altarpiece all over Europe refined it in
Poland or founded in Portugal find it in
Italy and defend it in Netherlands it
has the great advantage of giving you a
center picture which performs the
business of the altarpiece two wings
which will often allow you to paint
portrait of the donor or put in the
donors patron saints or put in the
patron saints church and then during
lead into Easter you close the thing and
on the back of the panels you'll get
usual in Greece I in pen Twitch's gray
and tonality gears backed white wood are
great white figures which again have
some relevance either to the donors or
the church but are without color in
other words it's Samba reflects mood of
Lent and it shots where the great glory
of the center the great glory of the
center isn't necessarily painted it
would be carved Tilghman riemann
schneider in germany came wonderful
great colored order peace and who simply
shot it where with wings then Easter
comes who draped it with black cloth you
will spend all 24 hours
celebrating Tenebrae on your knees with
all windows darkened and then you'll
celebrate the central Christ the
resurrection of Christ I the doors
everything is back to normal
and there is there is a great theatrical
thrill about this think of it in terms
of of opening up the life of windows of
inserts bells and singing and you get
the theatre of the truck and that's why
the triptych is the perfect form or she
stripped itches are undoubtedly his
best-known works the left-to-right
journey from heaven to hell
and be seen in many of them in this
series entitled the hay Wain the central
panel again presents us with a scene
whose subject matter appears innocent
enough at first the procession of a cart
of hay the scene is bright with blues
and especially Pink's read ating their
use in the most famous bot of all the
Garden of Earthly Delights we can also
see a pleasant rolling landscape
providing the background to a scene of
apparent frivolity but this is an image
loaded with visual symbols that would
have been well understood in Bosh's time
Dutch folklore saw hey both as a symbol
of man's pursuit of wealth and the
sinful follies that this pursuit
entailed the owl would also have been
recognized as a symbol of heresy while
the VARs referred to female promiscuity
but modern audiences can also share the
sense of ungodliness that Bosch sought
to convey what is actually pulling the
hay way whatever they are they are not
creatures created by God and what is the
destination of his highly symbolic
procession the right panel of the
triptych reveals the terrible truth it
is a place whose existence may be
doubted by many today but whose
terrifying reality was fully accepted in
medieval times we are now in Hell itself
he concentrated on headed because his
paintings are warning their warning to
humanity not to take that way and this
is in fact how his paintings were seen
throughout the medieval period it was
impossible for the peasantry and the
working classes slightly different and
the middle classes to exist without
a constant awareness of the imminence of
death there were no doctors speaker
there were only rudimentary remedies for
any kind of illness and something quite
simple like needle measles or scarlet
fever would carry law that was hunger
scurvy or teeth fella the average age of
people was at the time of death was much
earlier than than it is now it was
common for people to get married at the
age of 14 have children at once and be
dead by the time they were 24 a short
life not very Merry one they died of
they died hunger they died of scurvy all
kinds of deprivation and so if you look
at medieval life and you live look at
the history of famine in many times
right across Europe you realize that
death was always there you will have an
allegorical things like the dances of
death early form of illustration
continuing well internet styles the
warning constantly the death awaits you
whatever you do you're the young or the
older male female you're sleeping you're
eating whatever you're doing death is
always in to shoulder with death there
is judgment there is hell there's
purgatory and there is heaven and with
with a stroke of luck
and so it was world of angels and devils
all the time images such as these remind
us that the medieval mindset conceived
of a tangible physical hell of eternal
physical suffering many modern
Christians place less emphasis on the
reality of Hell choosing instead to
define it philosophically as the absence
of God but if we were to imagine a real
hell we would surely conjure up a scene
similar to this
it is not just the smoke and the fire
and the physical suffering that makes
this a fearful place it is the site of
unfathomable creatures whose existence
is as real as that of the unfortunate
humans depicted here grotesque creatures
are one of the most striking features of
bashas work as we can see in the
terrifying central panel of the Last
Judgement triptych Bosch surely
appreciated that it is the unknown that
we fear most and no one on earth can
ever have witnessed creatures like these
terrible hybrids of man and beast more
unsettling still is the fusion of the
animate and the inanimate as we can see
with this surreal knife creature
advancing purposefully in the bottom
right of the panel it is this sense of
purpose that for many is the greatest
artistic achievement of this horrifying
this is a world where purpose and agency
are undoubtedly present the monsters
that we see here have objectives which
do not appear out of place given the
context that Bosch has created this is a
world with its own internal order of
things an order we cannot fathom other
than with reference to the obvious human
suffering it is this totality of vision
that makes the Last Judgement
a disturbing image even for those who
consider the idea of Hell absurd it is
unsurprising that many modern critics
believe that Bosch must have been
inspired by some kind of hallucinogenic
stimulant well I think actually it was
necessary for Bosch because again there
were so many of these fantastic monsters
and Devils around in the medieval world
or through the medieval world and so he
got inspiration from the margins of
manuscripts from you know all the
churches from the sculptures and also
carvings of misery cords and even the
literature there was a lot of mystic
literature which was full of monstrous
creations and symbols as well people
have looked at Bosch in different ways I
mean some people have you know claimed
he used hallucinogenic drugs some other
people said that his work had a kind of
eye chemical meaning and astrological
meaning and so on they may be illusions
obviously to a storage in his work so
there may be a figure which is akin to
an astrological tradition but that's not
what his work is about his work his
first religious secondly more and then
obviously what makes it so great is the
artists invention when possibly because
he didn't have so many formulas to
follow he had to invent them he had to
be creative and this makes him one of
the most interesting artists of his time
we may never know for sure whether
Bosh's artistic vision was stimulated by
an altered state of consciousness but we
can be certain that the actual execution
of his
work was painstaking as that of any
other great painter of history his
surviving drawings prove that there was
nothing slack or random about the detail
of his paintings this weird figure is
known as the tree man an
incomprehensible being was completed
form we can see in the most famous of
all Bosh's works this is another image
of hell which forms the right panel of
another remarkable triptych the Garden
of Earthly Delights it is likely that
Bosch was in his early 50s when he
painted this extraordinary work of art
which remains a defining image of the
late Middle Ages the central panel may
be best known today but the adjoining
scenes of paradise and hell are scarcely
less impressive again the three panels
take us on a left-to-right journey and
the paradise of the creation to the
fires of damnation via an outdoor scene
of feverish activity the Garden of
Earthly Delights itself it is an
entirely appropriate name in the center
of the panel we see naked women bathing
in an exotic garden pond encircled by
men riding a huge variety of animals
behind them we can see fantastic
waterside constructions in pink and blue
while the left middle ground is notable
for a collection of birds of
disproportionate size it requires time
to take in fully the sheer amount of
activity happening here as with many of
bashas works this is an image heavy with
symbolism again much of the hidden
meaning may be lost on the modern viewer
but it is not difficult to realize that
the artist is dealing once again with
the business of sin
specifically the sin of lust some
detailed of the panel display this more
or less overtly elsewhere Bosch uses
symbolism to make his message clear
birds fruit and other devices have been
identified as symbols of physical
sexuality the whole idea of a garden of
love was derived from a well-established
folk tradition and this is a painting
for which a knowledge of contemporary
folklore adds immeasurably to our
appreciation of the work
although the garden of delights is heavy
with symbolic meaning that may be
obscure today the ultimately bleak
message of the triptych can be readily
understood the sinfulness of the central
panel leads directly to the hell of the
panel on the right here once more it is
the sheer imaginative power of the
artist that makes the horror effective
looking closely at the detail here it is
difficult not to imagine some kind of
hallucinogenic inspiration when the I
traveled over the two square meters of
this one painting it is a journey that
requires many pauses to take in the
scope of Bosh's imagination the hideous
ears with their terrifying blade
the harp transformed into a terrible
instrument of torture the lantern that
has become a furnace horrifying details
that are themselves detailed if we look
at the bird figure to the bottom right
we see that he is swallowing the Damned
only to excrete them into a hole in the
ground though horrifying we may just be
able to imagine such a hellish scene
ourselves but this is not all we see and
many of the smaller details simply defy
why is a human posterior excreting
coined into the whole why is the bird
creature wearing a cauldron on its head
why are the ends of his humanoid legs
shod with wine jars again Bosch may have
had symbolic meanings in mind but even
if he did it is not essential for us to
be aware of them instead we can see
these features as components of a
contingent imaginary world whose
diabolic Menace arrives from its
unfathomable nature quite literally the
devil is in the detail the purpose of
visual art is not to provide answers to
the difficulties faced by mankind and
the Garden of Earthly Delights makes no
attempt to do so other than perhaps to
shock the would-be sinner into a life of
Christian virtue Borgias own faith is
one of the few facts that have survived
concerning his life the match of the
work of his later career was religious
in nature it is tempting to see this
body of work as a spiritual counter to
the horrors of his better known art we
know that Bosch first used biblical
subject matter in the early years of his
career this image of the Epiphany or
adoration of the Magi may date from as
early as 1475
by contrast the second version of the
same subject could have been created
some 40 years later in the last period
of the artists life here we again see
the often obscure details that
characterize Bosh's work but this is a
very different kind of work from the
famous hell escapes it is almost a
relief to consider quietly the
visitation to the infant Jesus and
admire one of the less widely
appreciated aspects of Bosh's art his
mastery of landscape the seems to me to
be a concerted attempt by large number
of scholars both to make him something
that he was not one of these is a major
penta of landscape I find it very
difficult to believe that a new school
of landscape painting developed out of
bosch's paintings and too few people saw
them too few people realize that there
was a landscape element that was worth
looking at too many of his pictures have
entirely schematic landscapes which have
no relevance to the history of landscape
painting they have had some relevance in
the history of invention but not of
observation he's entirely different from
Broyhill who is really significant push
her on to her business glance get paid I
have no doubt that he went and sat in
the opener and drew trees he may even
have painted trees there are wonderful
trees and in late painting lacks in
doubt in it which which didn't come out
of his head which didn't come out of
observation but in general I don't think
he's at all significant and and pushing
pattern are on to him as on impossible
without him seems to me to be nonsense
we can still appreciate Bosh's skills as
a landscape asti's religious work here
we cease and Kristopher carrying the
infant Jesus against a wooded landscape
stretching back into the hills much of
Bosh's later work depicts events from
the lives of the saints often
incorporating trademark symbolism to
express these events visually as
elsewhere much of this symbolism may not
be immediately meaningful to the modern
viewer but with this image of st. John
the Baptist in the wilderness the
identity of this creature as the Lamb of
God is clear many of Bosh's religious
paintings dealt with the subject of
Saints in the wilderness exposed to the
temptations of the devil few artists can
ever have been better qualified for the
task images such as these gave Bosch the
opportunity to demonstrate his skills as
a landscape estándares mastery of
narrative much of this symbolism
deployed may now be arcane and there is
no doubt that the lives of the saints
were better known in the 16th century
than they are today
but we can still appreciate the idea of
the isolated Christian drift in a
perplexing world with only faith to
sustain him
one such individual was sent Anthony an
early believer who passed most of his
days in the deserts of Egypt living as a
hermit according to his hagiography
anton his privations included being
beaten unconscious by devilled in the
tomb he used as a prayer house
he was also tempted by the devil in the
form of a great Queen was apparent
benevolence and goodness was eventually
revealed as the deceit of Satan
both these narrative details can be seen
in Bosh's triptych entitled the
temptation ascent Anthony but this late
work gives the viewer more than just the
narrative the theme of temptation by the
devil allowed the artist to give full
expression to the fantastic notably in
the middle panel where we see the Saint
beside the tomb surrounded by monstrous
figures as the fires of hell rage once
more in the background as with earlier
works the temptation of sin tantony
rewards the viewer prepared to explore
the details incorporated into the scene
the wine jar turned into a pig-like
creature is an especially memorable
example but the scent and any trip tidge
is perhaps best appreciated in its
entirety it is amongst the best
preserved of all Bosh's works and
amongst the most technically
accomplished of his career the sense of
temptation faced by the saint is
expressed by the vividness of Bosh's
colors the lure of the devil must be
dazzling otherwise there is little
achievement in renouncing it
in artistic terms we can also see here
Bosh's mastery of arrangement and of
light the tree scape to the right of the
burning town is as unsettling in its
silent simplicity as other more
immediately horrifying details in simple
terms the temptation of sant antoni is a
mature work by an artist who had now
reached the peak of his powers the
temptation of sant antoni may represent
Bosh's finest technical achievement but
it remains primarily an expression of
faith one of the most remarkable details
in any painting by Bosch can be seen
within the tomb behind sant antoni there
can be no doubting this eternal image it
is Christ himself on the cross the
figure is so small but first time
viewers of the work can fail to notice
it at all but once we become aware of
its presence it comes to inform the
entire work with the Christian message
of salvation Christ would be the subject
matter for most of the paintings that
survive from the final years of Bosh's
life though as we have seen his earlier
work includes also scenes from the life
of Jesus ek homo or behold the man takes
us back to the theme of folly here we
see the moment when Jesus is condemned
by Pontius Pilate the Roman governor who
is only carrying out the wishes of the
mob the suffering of Christ is
masterfully rendered we can clearly see
the consequences of his scourging but it
is Christ's tormentors who are perhaps
the real subject matter here they are
totally wrapped up in their own earthly
existence we can imagine that for these
individuals this is just an ordinary
typical day they have no idea at all of
the real significance of their actions
this is the moment when Christ is most
isolated surrounded by folly with only a
terrible death to come it is hardly
surprising that the images of Jesus
painted by Bosch concentrate on these
final moments of the Savior's life the
events of the passion Bosch painted the
passion but the passion is the main
subject of Christian imagery so it is
nothing really surprising in it I mean
they are scenes which were chosen and
codified there were devotions which were
linked to the sufferings of Christ know
again his interest in the passion is a
very traditional one I think because
with the passion you could show Christ's
suffering at the hands of these human
sinners to much greater extent and it's
very much in line with a movement which
was very popular in the 15th century
called the modern devotion and that
movement taught meditation on the
suffering of Christ contemplation and
also imitation and so the sacrifice of
Christ by you know meditating on it and
concentrating on it would show up what
Christ as she did for the redemption of
humankind surviving works by Bosch tell
the familiar story of the final hours of
Jesus Christ right up to the moment of
his death the finest of these can be
considered the artists final masterpiece
christ carrying the cross here the folly
of the mob can again be seen but there
is a far greater sense of gloating in
the faces of these individuals than in
the earlier eka homo they have got their
wish now Jesus is soon to die a terrible
they are savoring the moment the two
criminals also condemned to die are not
spared their malice one of them appears
to have some spirit of resistance left
but the other is now
completely broken and resigned to his
fate but it is Christ himself that
represents bashas greatest achievement
here eyes closed he is somehow apart
from the chaos around him for Christians
this is entirely appropriate the person
of Jesus has human and divine elements
and Bosch somehow captures both in his
representations of the Christ figure
Christians also believe that Jesus
triumphed over the folly of men with the
achievement of his resurrection but this
is an image whose overall sense of
pessimism cannot be denied it is
unfortunate that we have no record of
the thoughts and beliefs of the artist
who created it with Bosch I think we
have absolutely no idea how his mind
work works we have no idea what kind of
man he was at all he may he may have
been almost anything he may have been
and I suspect I mean if you have if you
force me into a corner and say what do
you think he was like my inclination is
said that in order to paint what he did
and not be not caused outrage he must
have been extremely devout in his
observances he must have been a
religious and not a bitter and twisted
old man whom everybody disliked he must
have been deeply respected who suggests
me that he was he was serious in all his
endeavors and that his personality
whatever it was is not loud come through
hieronymus bosch the man will probably
remain a mystery forever
but his work is amongst the most
recognizable of all Western art by the
time of his death in August 1516 his
achievements were undeniable and the
following decades saw his work become
the best known on any artists of the
Netherlands Center is later his work
proved inspirational to the Surrealists
and much of his work remains as relevant
today as it has ever been
but in artistic terms the work of
Hieronymus Bosch would most strongly
influence the work of a painter born in
the decade after his death Pieter
Bruegel the elder the second of the


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