Hieronymus Bosch

Laurinda Dixon

in Renaissance and Reformation

ISBN: 9780195399301
Published online August 2013 | | DOI:
Hieronymus Bosch

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  • Modern History (1700 to 1945)
  • Medieval and Renaissance Philosophy


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The art of Hieronymus Bosch (b. c. 1450–d. 1516) has challenged and fascinated viewers since the 15th century. His hybrid creatures and creative monstrosities seem unprecedented in the art historical canon and therefore mysterious to 21st-century viewers. Adding to this general sense of bafflement is the fact that we know perhaps less about Bosch than any other artist of his era. Unlike his famous contemporaries, Albrecht Dürer and Leonardo da Vinci, who documented their lives and works in copious letters and writings, Bosch left us nothing in his own words. His date of birth is unknown, and we cannot say if he ever left his birthplace, the town of ’s-Hertogenbosch (the modern city of den Bosch, the Netherlands), from which he took his professional name. For the most part, the art itself is all that is left us, although ironically documentation does exist for several lost paintings. Today, only about twenty-five works are accepted as by Bosch’s hand, and his name appears on only seven of these. None shows a date. With the advent of sophisticated means of technical examination of panels, even these few are being disputed. No less important is the question of meaning in Bosch’s works, which were produced at a time when artists delighted in veiling content within layers of enigma and symbolism. As scholars continue to delve into the historical and artistic contexts from which Bosch evolved, the inscrutable painter emerges as a man of his time, conversant in the historical, intellectual, and religious controversies of his day. His works reflect a tumultuous era, different from, but no less complex than our own.

Article.  12262 words. 

Subjects: Modern History (1700 to 1945) ; Medieval and Renaissance Philosophy

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