Hieronymus Bosch

"A mystery man who created monsters"

The Mysterious Life

Hieronymus Bosch was born born in Hertogenbosch, Netherlands around 1450 to Anthonis van Aken, a painter and his father. He died in the same town on August 9, 1516. He spent his life in his hometown of Hertogenbosch. Around 1480, Hieronymus married a considerably older Aleyt Goyaerts van den Meervenne making him a wealthy man with a comfortable life. He was also a member of the Brotherhood of Our Lady which started him with some painting commissions. However, not much is known of Hieronymus' life and his true name isn't known. Instead, his name has been created from where he lived, in Hertogenbosch. Although being highly unique and influential, his paintings, oil on wood, number at only twenty-five. Even with so few works, Philip II of Spain made it his mission to gather Hieronymus' paintings. As a result, the largest collection of Bosch's work is on display in Madrid.

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The Garden of Earthly Delights (1504)

Completed around 1504, this is one of Bosch's most famous works. It is now in the Prado Museum in Madrid. It depicts Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden on the left, people sinning in their youth in the middle and Hell on the right panel.

Bosch's Style

Hieronymus' twenty five paintings can be divided into two main groups, secular and allegorical. Many religious paintings show religious history such as Adam and Eve sinning in their paradise in The Garden of Earthly Delights. Other religious works often show scenes from Hell in which minions of the devil are torturing sinners; the torturers often use musical instruments in their methods making Bosch's artwork even more interesting.

My Interpretation

I find Hieronymus Bosch's work to be fascinating and very unique. His depictions of Hell are painted in a very abstract manner while still having a fine and realistic appearance to them. Different items from the natural world are used in odd ways to develop a plot or a moral in the art. Bosch's art was first of its kind because of his impressionistic views and how he displayed that in his art. His monsters as well are intriguing, many of them being bird or amphibian related often showed as helpers of Satan. His bizarre approach seemed to foreshadow an even stranger world of the twentieth century impressionism and surrealism.

The Effect

Many of Hieronymus' works were painted from a religious view, but he also had paintings where they showed stories. These paintings can be considered to have promoted secularism in the arts by exhibiting a message or moral. In addition to secular art, Bosch worked in the religious field as well. His workings with religion often brought people to wonder what was in store for people after they died. Man believed that all sinners would brutally be tortured in Hell eternally, Where as others did not believe such a harsh punishment awaited. This demonstrates Skepticism where people are questioning the future as well as the fact that there is some knowledge that is impossible to know. Many people did not have a grasp on the idea of life after death, and as a result many people resided with religion rather than attempting to grasp these ideas on no firm basis of knowledge.


Bosch, Hieronymus. "Triptych of the Last Judgment; Last Judgment." Artstor. Artstor, n.d.


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Merriam-Webster, 1995. Biography in Context. Web. 19 Nov. 2013.

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Bosch, Hionymus. "Crucifixion." Artstor. N.p., n.d. Web.



Bosch, Hieronymus. "The Conjurer." Artstor. N.p., n.d. Web.



"Paradise lost and found in three old panels." Christian Science Monitor 22 June 2000: 18.Biography in Context. Web. 19 Nov. 2013.

Bosch, Hieronymus. "Garden of Earthly Delights." Artstor. N.p., n.d. Web.