AN EXPLORATION OF ART HISTORY
Hieronymus Bosch was a Flemish artist whose style could be connected to the later Surrealist period. His smooth, dreamlike style is similar to the 20th century surrealist movement even though he came 400 years before Dali, Magritte, and Oppenheim. His fascinating and puzzling paintings made him a unique and engrossing artist during the Late Middle Ages. His work reveals a curious iconography with an imaginative and satirical style that depicts both symbols of life and creation.
Bosch was a moralist who painted scenes that had hidden messages and symbols referring to human nature. His paintings have a common theme of sermons and religiously based scenes. However, the translations of these pieces have caused critics trouble. Bosch’s choice of symbols to represent temptation and mans ensnarement in sinful acts caused many art professionals to misinterpret Bosch’s message. However, more recent scholars have viewed Bosch as an artist who had a deep understanding of the human character and had a style that encompassed abstract concepts. Being one of the first artists to represent conceptual ideas in his work, many critics and patrons didn’t understand or appreciate Bosch’s work during his time.
Overall, Bosch has created approximately 35 to 40 paintings however, only 7 are signed and none are dated. As a result little is known about what the artist created and how many pieces he produced. This lack of information transfers into his personal life. Researchers have found very little information about Bosch’s early life, other than both his father and grandfather being painters. In addition to painting Bosch has been attributed to altarpieces and executed design for stained glass.
Bosch’s best work came out of his middle to late period. In these periods his figures are graceful and are all in motion, they all are masterfully placed on the canvas making each figure an important piece of the whole. His chaotic scenes are apocalyptic and are filled with fantasy, nightmares, and juxtapositions that contrast the innocence and temptation of mankind.
The “Garden of Earthly Delights,” is one of Bosch’s best works. In each panel Bosch breaks it up into three sections, heaven, the tantric circle, and Earth. The first panel of the triptych depicts Adam and Eve and the first temptation. This panel, the most peaceful and simple panel, represents the world before temptation, or before Eve was tempted by the apple. The composition is filled with different animals and plants, creating a world that looks peaceful. The second panel represents the world with temptation. Bosch’s chaotic style comes through with his cramped composition. He shows temptation by displaying figures in the nude and providing sexual suggestions. However, near the horizon line the viewer still sees the peaceful and majestic image of Heaven. The third panel is image of both Earth and Hell. Bosch’s meaning in this panel is that man causes the corruption of divinity through the agency. Bosch’s message of man is very cynical however, through his color choice and depiction of Earth he shows the beauty of nature and Earth.