Died At Age: 66
Also Known As: Jheronimus van Aken
Born in: Burgundian Netherlands
Famous as: Painter
Spouse/Ex-: Aleyt Goyaerts van den Meerveen
father: Anthonius van Aken
siblings: Goessen van Aken, Jan van Aken
Died on: August 9, 1516
place of death: Habsburg Netherlands
Hieronymus Bosch was a famous Dutch painter and draftsman who lived during the Middle Ages. Born in Brabant, Netherlands, Bosch became one of the most significant representatives of the Early Netherlandish Painting School. He primarily portrayed human shortcomings through his works. His paintings, altarpieces, and triptychs (three-paneled pictures) were very popular, especially among the royals and the nobles in several European countries even beyond the Netherlands. He used to receive commissions to design garments and stained glass as well, though most of them failed to survive to the modern times. Some of his best known works are the triptych ‘Adoration of the Magi’, which is currently housed in the Prado Museum, in Madrid, Spain, and ‘The Last Judgment’, another triptych, which is currently housed in the ‘Academy of Fine Arts’ in Vienna, Austria. His works are still hugely popular among wealthy patrons in several European countries. Most of his works have a Christian theme, and deal with subjects like temptation, damnation, and the seven sins. He has followers even up to this day, who try to imitate his style.
Childhood & Early Life
Hieronymus Bosch was born as Jheronimus van Aken in ‘s-Hertogenbosch, Brabant, currently situated in the Netherlands. The exact date of his birth is not known, though he is estimated to have been born sometime around 1450.
He left behind no letters or diaries, which is why not much is known about his early life or parents. However, it is known that he came from an artistic family as his father, brother and uncles were all painters. His father was known to be an artistic advisor to a popular religious association of that time named ‘Illustrious Brotherhood of Our Blessed Lady’.
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The artist lived most of his life near the city of ‘s-Hertogenbosch. The city was a flourishing one which provided him with ample opportunities to establish himself as a painter. He was a highly talented artist and received lots of commissions, even from abroad. He adopted his professional name “Hieronymus Bosch” much later.
Hieronymus Bosch used to create his paintings on oak panels. He used oil as a medium. His palette was very simple and contained only the usual pigments of his time.
Most of his works had a Christian theme. Some scholars are of the belief that though his works have gained a lot of appreciation, they are not that fantastic as they only depicted the religious beliefs of his age. Through some of his works, he also criticized those who spend their lives pursuing materialistic pleasure.
Like his father, he also joined the organization ‘Brotherhood of Our Blessed Lady’ sometime around 1486. Some of his initial commissions are believed to have come through the Brotherhood. However, none of these early works have survived to this day.
Even though he is believed to have created a lot of significant paintings throughout his career, the exact number of his surviving works is still a matter of debate, as his signature has been found only on seven of his surviving works. Due to the significance of his works, several copies and variations of his paintings are believed to have been created by other artists. Therefore, it is still unknown whether all the paintings attributed to him were really his handiwork.
’One of Hieronymus Bosch’s important works is ‘Adoration of the Magi’, also known as ‘The Epiphany’, a triptych oil painting which was executed somewhere between 1485 and 1500. It is currently in the Prado Museum, the Main Spanish National Art Museum, in Madrid, Spain.
The painting has been there from 1839. The painting features the coat of arms of the Bronchorst, the family of Kassembrood’s wife. Kasembrood was a secretary of a Spanish General named Lamoral, who was executed with him, in the year 1568.
Another one of his masterpieces is ‘The Temptation of St Anthony’. Currently housed in the Prado Museum in Madrid, Spain, The painting portrays St Anthony the Abbot in meditation, in peaceful surroundings.
The triptych ‘The Last Judgment’ is another one among his significant works. The work, which currently resides in the Academy of Fine Arts, Vienna, Austria, was created after 1482. The left panel shows the Garden of Eden, with God sitting on his throne. Below, it shows the creation of Adam and Eve, who are later banished after being tempted by the snake. The central panel depicts Christ judging the damned to hell, while the last panel shows the damned souls being tortured even further.
‘Allegory of Gluttony and Lust’ is another one of his well-known paintings. Created somewhere between 1490 and 1500, it is currently housed in the Yale University Art Gallery, in New Haven, Connecticut, United States.
The painting shows a fat man riding a barrel in a small pool, while being pushed around by other people. A swimmer’s clothes lie on the shore, and inside a hut, is couple is shown to be indulging in sexual activities. The work is interpreted as a condemnation of lust and gluttony.
Personal Life & Legacy
Sometime around 1480, Hieronymus Bosch married Aleyt Goyaerts van den Meerveen, who was few years older to him. She came from a wealthy family and this marriage helped improve his social status. Shortly after their marriage, the couple moved to the town of Oirschot, where his wife had inherited a house from her family.
Bosch passed away on 9 August 1516. His funeral was observed in the Church of Saint John.
He didn’t leave behind any protégés but painters such as Jan Mandyn and Pieter Huys were known to be his best imitators.