Bosch was the last, and perhaps the greatest, of the medieval painters. He was admired in his lifetime; the artist was especially revered by ardent Catholics, including Philip II of Spain, an avid collector of his works.
Bosch is best known for his allegorical works of which the central theme is the sinful depravity of man, human folly, deadly sin, and the Last Judgment. Bosch’s paintings are like passionate sermons drawing pictures of hell.
The artist’s passion for moralizing is supplemented by the rich imagination: in his paintings, one can see fantastic monsters, disgusting creatures steeped in torment, and vice. These nightmares, not drug-induced, but illustrations of ideas and images in wide circulation of the Middle Ages. Bosch demonstrates a brilliant rapid technique that was influenced by ornate manuscript illumination. Acute, intricate intensity reflects his belief that he was depicting certainty and reality, not fantasy. Bosch had no real successor until Bruegel.
Hieronymus Bosch’s major works are Death and the Miser, c. 1485–90 (Washington, DC: National Gallery of Art); The Ship of Fools, c. 1490–1500 (Paris: Musée du Louvre); Christ Mocked, c. 1490–1500 (London: National Gallery); The Path of Life, c. 1500–02 (Paris: Musée du Louvre).
- Robert Cumming. Art: complete encyclopedia. – 512 p. – Moscow: Astrel, 2005.