Presented by: Liz Rushton

Review written by: Carol Wauchope

The Ship of Fools477.The ship of fools

Little is known of the Netherlandish painter Hieronymus Bosch’s life or education.  He left behind no knowledge and what has been found about his life has been from brief references in municipal records.  We know nothing of his nature and temperament and even his birth date is unknown which is thought to be around 1450, although we know died in 1516. Even his name has been changed from Jheronimus van Aken to Hieronymus Bosch.  It is believed he was trained in painting by a relative, whether it was his father or uncle, no one knows.   His art is difficult to understand but we do know that he used fantastic images to explain moral and religious ideas and stories.

Bosch was a Catholic and joined a local religious organization, The Illustrious Brotherhood of Our Blessed Lady, devoted to the Virgin Mary, around 1486.

Liz showed many paintings by Bosch – “The Adoration of the Magi,” “The Garden of Earthly Delights,” the tabletop painting of “The Seven Deadly Sins and the Four Last Things,” “The Haywain Triptych” and “The Stone Operation.”

Bosch painted several triptychs and maybe the most famous is “The Garden of Earthly Delights” which is in the Prado Museum in Madrid.  This is the most amazing painting as it depicts paradise with Adam and Eve and many incredible animals on the left panel, the earthly pleasures with many nude figures and incredible fruit and birds on the middle panel, and hell with illustrations of grotesque punishments of the countless sorts of sins on the right panel.  When the exterior panels are closed the viewer can see God creating the Earth. This painting depicts the decline of the world through sin, primarily desire, and a beautiful garden becomes a dark, burning terrifying moment in the last panel of this triptych.

Bosch is known for his dark and unsettling visions and through out his career he focused much of his attention to exploring religious themes.  “The Garden of Earthly Delights” depicted the decline of the world through sin and like so many of his works, serves as a visual lecture on morality.

The precise number of Bosch’s surviving works has been subject to considerable deliberation.  It is known that from the early sixteenth century onwards, numerous copies and variations of his paintings began to circulate but he signed only seven of his paintings, and there is uncertainty whether all the paintings once credited to him were actually painted by him.

His work appears surreal and he used his art to show the sins and foolishness of people and to show the outcomes of these actions.

Thank you Liz for a very interesting and thought provoking presentation.


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