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Definition: Bosch, Hieronymus from Philip's Encyclopedia

Flemish painter, b. Jerome van Aken in Hertogenbosch. His paintings of grotesque and fantastic visions based on religious themes led to accusations of heresy, but greatly influenced 20th-century surrealism. The majority of his pictures explore the distressing consequences of human sin: innocent figures are besieged by horrifying physical torments. About 40 examples of his work survive, but his most famous works are The Temptation of St Anthony, The Garden of Earthly Delights (often considered his masterpiece), and the Adoration of the Magi.


Summary Article: Bosch, Hieronymus (c. 1460–1516)
from The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather Guide

Early Dutch painter. His fantastic visions, often filled with bizarre and cruel images, depict a sinful world in which people are tormented by demons and weird creatures, as in Hell, a panel from the triptych The Garden of Earthly Delights (c. 1505–10; Prado, Madrid). In their richness, complexity, and sheer strangeness, his pictures foreshadow surrealism.

Bosch is named after his birthplace, 's-Hertogenbosch, in North Brabant, the Netherlands. His work, which strongly influenced Brueghel the Elder, may have been inspired by a local religious brotherhood. However, he seems to have been an orthodox Catholic and a prosperous painter, not a heretic, as was once believed. His work was collected by Philip II of Spain, who shared Bosch's dark vision of the world.

Bosch was well known and highly appreciated during his lifetime and in the 16th century. Philip the Fair of Burgundy commissioned a Last Judgement from him, and Philip II delighted in his works. The source of his fantastic art, to which there is nothing comparable in the Early Netherlandish School, cannot be exactly stated, though it evidently derives from the satire, humour, popular symbolism, and folklore of the later Middle Ages. Thus The Ship of Fools (Louvre, Paris) is a decidedly medieval conception, and The Haywain (Prado, Madrid) is clearly an allegory satirizing the pursuit of wealth and material aims.

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