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Introduction to Hieronymus Bosch

Posted by Art Of Legend India [dot] Com On 2:27 AM

Hieronymus bosch

 

One of the most intriguing artists of the late middle Ages was Hieronymus Bosch, whose horrific visions of Hell are some of the most graphic ever painted. Through an art rich in strange and disturbing images, Bosch reflected the concerns of an age which was everywhere dominated by religion and death. His mysterious paintings emerge as complex, moralistic allegories, intended to point out to men the error of their ways.

Yet perhaps the greatest mystery is Bosch himself. Apart from a few details, little is known about his life. What is clear is that he spent virtually all of his life in the Netherlandish town off’s Hertogenbosch, near what is now the Dutch/Belgian border and that during his lifetime his paintings were well-known, and much admired. Even today, his paintings continue to fascinate, as they do to baffle, all those who see them.

The Master of’s-Hertogenbosch 


A successful and established artist in his own day, Bosch was a great master of fantasy whose source of inspiration may be related to the religious atmosphere of his home town.


This views shows the cloth market at s’-Hertogenbosh in about 1525.bosch probably lived in one of the houses in the background called” The Red Cross.Jheronimous Anthonissen van Aken, or 'Hieronymus Bosch' as he signed his paintings, was born about 1450 at’s-Hertogenbosch, a lively and prosperous city in the province of North Brabant in the Netherlands. The family name suggests that Bosch's ancestors came from Aachen in North Germany, but they were certainly living in Holland by the early fifteenth century. Bosch's father, Anthonius van Aken, was a painter, as were his sister, one of his two brothers, four of his uncles, and his grandfather Jan. It was possibly to distinguish himself from the rest of his family that he adopted the pseudonym 'Bosch', taken from the last syllable of the city's name. Or it may be that he called himself Bosch when he left his native city and made a trip abroad. 



A DUTCH PROVINCIAL CITY 



Time spent in Utrecht It is likely that Bosch spent some time in this ancient Flemish town, which was an important centre of manuscript illumination. His early works shows a familiarity with the work of the Dutch illuminators.

Although Bosch's childhood remains some-thing of a mystery, it can be assumed that he had a comfortable, upper-middle-class upbringing in which religious and artistic matters were of paramount importance. His family had close connections with the city's Cathedral of St John. A fresco there, depicting the Crucifixion, and dated 1444, is believed to have been painted by Bosch's grandfather. And his father received commissions for the decoration of church furniture and the colouring of statues. It is known that from 1462, the Aken family were living in a large house in the city's Grote Market or main square.





THE RELIGIOUS BROTHERHOOD 

  
Hertogenbosch still has the air of an affluent merchant city near the central hoteal stands a monument to bosch upon whose reputation the fram of the city rests One of the most influential religious societies in’s-Hertogenbosch was the Brethren of the Common Life, a deeply religious foundation which originated in the 14th century and became firmly established in’s-Hertogenbosch in the 1420s. And it is to this society rather than to the Adamites that Bosch's life was devoted. Inspired by Gerhard Groote, a follower of the great Flemish mystic, Jan van Ruysbroeck, the Brethren sought to counter the moral corruption of the age by adopting a purer and more devout form of spirituality known as the Devotio Moderna . The members of the order dedicated themselves to God by renouncing the world and sharing all that they possessed.


By the end of the century, this foundation had contributed to the steady growth of a number of rival religious orders in’s-Hertogenbosch It is within this environment, so steeped in religious experience, that Bosch's mind was shaped. As for his artistic grounding, it is possible that he had some formal training in a nearby provincial centre such as Utrecht or, more likely, a that he learnt the rudiments of his arts in his father's workshop.

- Portrait of the artist an engraving loosely based upon an earlier pencil portrait of Bosch, this picture shows the artist when he was in old age. His wary gaze gives away little about his enigmatic and fascinating character. What is clear, however, is that sometime between 1479 and 1481 Bosch married Aleyt Goyaerts van den Meervenne, who was quite a few years older than him and came from a wealthy and noble family. She no doubt provided Bosch with a sizeable dowry and important social contacts. Through the marriage, Bosch inherited an estate in the nearby village of Oorschot, as well as several other properties but there were some problems as in 1481 there seems to have been a quarrel involving a lawsuit between Bosch and his brother-in-law. Aleyt was, and had been from the age of 16, a member of the Lieve Vrouve Broederschap, or Brotherhood of Our Lady (both Bosch's father and grandfather had also been closely involved with its activities). Established in the early 14th century, 





The Duke of Burgundy presided over one of the most magnificent courts in Europe, with a fine tradition of artistic patronage. In 1504 he commissioned Bosch to paint an enormous altarpiece about 9' by 11' - showing the Last Judgment in the centre with Heaven and Hell as the side panels. Unfortunately, the picture has not survived the passage of time.
The Brotherhood of Our Lady was a lay and religious confraternity for men and women which involved itself in a wide range of affairs including arranging music for their daily masses and commissioning works of art. It had its own chapel in St John's, where an image of the Virgin - reputed to have miraculous powers - was kept. Wealthy, devout and exclusive as it was the brotherhood's influence within’s-Hertogenbosch was considerable. And it is principally from the Brotherhood's records that the scanty details of Bosch's personal life are known. In 1480/81, the records show that Boschbought two altar panels from the Brotherhood which, on the death of his father, had been left unfinished, probably with the intention of completing them himself. Later, between 1488 and 1492, Bosch was painting the shutters for a wooden altarpiece of Our Lady, the central panel of which had been carved in 1476/7 by the famous Utrecht an sculptor Adriaen van Wesel. Some estimation of Bosch's standing is indicated by the fact that in 1486 he was accepted as a Gezworen Broeder or 'sworn brother'. 

COMMISSIONED WORK 
 

- Bosch kept close links with the Cathedral throughout his life. From the Brotherhood of Our Lady came commissions to design stained glass, a crucifix, and a chandelier for their new chapel. He also painted one altarpiece for the cathedral showing the Creation of the World, another depicting the Adoration of the Magi, and various Old Testament scenes, all of which have subsequently disappeared.
In 1493/4, the Brotherhood commissioned Bosch to make designs for the stained-glass window in the chapel. These were executed; it seems, on 'a pair of old bed sheets'. Between 1499 and 1503, the records are curiously silent about Bosch, and it has been suggested that he may have travelled to Italy during these years. 8 By the turn of the century, Bosch's work was 


Well-known and highly regarded. In 1504 he received his most important documented com-mission. Philip the Fair, Duke of Burgundy, asked Bosch for a large altarpiece portraying the Last Judgment, with scenes of Heaven and Hell on each side respectively. Unfortunately, this work has not been discovered, though some believe that The Last Judgment fragment in Munich may be part of it, and the The Last Judgment triptych in Vienna is a smaller version.


THE LAST YEARS 
 

A visit to Venice Carpaccio's painting of Venice with its wealth of everyday detail gives a fascinating insight into life in European cities in Bosch's time. The fact that Bosch painted a Crucifixion of Saint Julia, a subject that was very popular in northern Italy, has led to some speculation that he may have gone there himself.
Towards the end of his life, Bosch was working regularly on commissions for the Brotherhood. In 1508/9 he advised on the decoration of an altarpiece of Our Lady and further commissions followed designs for a crucifix in 1511/12, and a brass chandelier in 1512/13. Bosch died in 1516, less than 10 years before the birth of Pieter Bruegel his natural successor in artistic terms. The notices of his death refer to him as insignis Pictor (illustrious painter) and seer vermaerd schilder (very famous painter), a final tribute to his qualities as an artist of diverse and prodigious talents. 




Writer - Marshall Cavendish
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