Sunday 4 July 2010

The Art of Hieronymus Bosch

Hieronymus Bosch (1450-1516) was born to a family of artists Hertogenbosch, from which his name was derived and where he worked all of his life. Although some of his paintings are fairly traditional, he also created pictures that rank among the most powerful imaginative fantasy scenes in the history of art.

c. 1480-90. oil on panel. Prado, Madrid.”]His work was popular and influential during the 16th century, but then long forgotten. Since his rediscovery in the early 20th century he has continued to fascinate and perplex viewers.

His work is known for its use of fantastic imagery to illustrate moral and religious concepts and narratives. The paintings depict a weird world full of grotesque and horrifying creatures, giving vivid form to the fear of Hell that haunted the medieval minds of that time.

c. 1500. oil on panel. Prado, Madrid.”]His work once rediscovered influenced the famous artists of the surrealist movement, especially the work of Salvador Dali.

Among Bosch’s most famous works is the triptych The Garden of Earthly Delights.

The wooden triptych was painted with oil and consisted of a square middle panel flanked by two rectangular panels that can close over the center as shutters. When folded the outer panels display a painting of the earth during the Creation.  It is currently located in the Museo del Prado, Madrid.

Bosch, Hieronymus. The Garden of Earthly Delights. c. 1500. oil on panel. Prado, Madrid.

This painting was probably made for the private enjoyment of a noble family.

It is named for the luscious garden in the central panel,

which is filled with cavorting nudes and giant birds and fruit.

God is absent from the central panel. This panel shows humanity acting with free will and engaging in various sexual activities. The impression of a life lived without consequence. In reference to astrological alignments at the time this was painted, a lot of the instruments of torture are also musical instruments.


The triptych depicts the history of the world and the progression of sin.

Outer wings (shutters), depicting the third day of creation.

Beginning on the outside shutters with the creation of the world, the story progresses from Adam and Eve and original sin on the left panel to the torments of hell, a dark, icy, yet fiery nightmarish vision, on the right.

On the left panel the painting depicts paradise with Adam and Eve and many wondrous animals,


the earthly delights with numerous nude figures and tremendous fruit and birds

illustrates a world deeply engaged in sinful pleasures on the middle panel,

and hell with depictions of fantastic punishments of the various types of sinners on the right panel.


When the exterior panels are closed the viewer can see, painted in grisaille, God creating the Earth.

This work inspired Alexander McQueen’s finale collection.


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