It would be vain to seek for an exact parallel to the genius and the art of Bosch in his own time. Not indeed in form, technique, or expression, but assuredly in the peculiarity of its morbid visionary quality, is commingling of grim humour with tragic pathos, is sinister element of cruelty and blood-lust, that art is intensely modern. Not only is this uncanny poet-humorist the precursor of Peeter Brueghel, and through him of so many among the face-loving realists of the seventeenth century-- Brouwer, Teniers, Adriaen van Ostade, and Jan Steen in the number--but he reveals four hundred years in advance of his time a strain of that morbid, neurasthenic, yet genuinely poetic fantasy, which distinguishes not a few of his fellow-countrymen to-day.
Jerome van Aken, or Hieronymus Bosch (he generally signs himself Jheronimus Bosch), is, and always has been, one of the most famous of the Netherlandish masters, his renown extending south as well as north of the Alps. In 1504 we find him painting for Philip le Beau, 'pour son tres noble plaisir,' a Last Judgment, of vast dimensions, which has never yet been identified, but would seem to have been the most important of his works.
Bosch treated triptychs and polyptychs in a panoramic way, as if all parts were to be viewed simultaneously. In The Temptation of St. Anthony (Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga, Lisbon), he used a clockwise arrangement, beginning the story high up in the right panel at "one o'clock," then continuing downwards and over to the left wing in order to keep the central panel free for the grand finale, the saint's ultimate temptation.
We may be struck by the various oddities of the Earthly Paradise, but the stunning fourth panel captivates us by virtue of its great visionary qualities... Guided by angels, some five souls ascend towards a tunnel which leads to the realm of light. Once well in the tunnel, the soul is left to go the last stretch alone. It is as if Bosch were saying that the reunion with the light that is God is far too personal and sublime an event to be shared with others, even an angel.
Bosch's work particularly influenced Bruegel in the 16th century. His paintings were collected by Philip II of Spain, and in the 20th century were cited by the Surrealists as precursors of their own visions.
Hieronymus Bosch was born in the town of Hertogenbosch near Antwerp, from which he took his name. He was the son of a painter. He is famous for the fantastic and disturbing detail of his panel pictures.
The panel on the left [in the triptych of Garden of Earthly Delights] shows God greeting Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. The panel on the right shows a surrealistic depiction of Hell. Though what does the central panel show? It doesn't appear to have any religious significance, and there is no religious imagery used at all. It is simply and incredibly orgy of uninhibited nude men and women (mostly women) frolicking in an dreamlike wonderland. Many art historians speculate the meaning of this painting and the general consensus is that it is a warning against lust and indulgence during our time on earth lest ye be cast down into the scenic pits of Hell for all eternity.
Little is known about the life of Hieronymus Bosch (1450 – 1516), though he was undoubtedly one of the most visionary artists of his era. He was a Dutch painter and his paintings are often of fantastical landscapes and preposterous scenes of the imagination. He is described as "The First Surrealist". One of his best known paintings is "Garden of Earthly Delights", which is actually several paintings arranged as a triptych with three internal panels, and two external panels that can be folded over the internal panels, making a total of five individual paintings in the triptych. It is believed to have been painted before 1510, but a precise date is unknown, as is its origin.
Avarice was one of the seven deadly sins and among the final temptations described in the Ars moriendi (Art of Dying), a religious treatise probably written about 1400 and later popularized in printed books. Bosch's painting [Death and the Miser] is similar to illustrations in these books, but his introduction of ambiguity and suspense is unique.
Of all fifteenth-century artists, Hieronymus Bosch is the most mysterious. His puzzling, sometimes bizarre imagery has prompted a number of false assertions that he was, for example, the member of a heretical sect, a sexual libertine, or a forerunner of the surrealists.