Boschmania Part Three

Final post on this topic.

The Last Judgement

I am rather partial to scenes of the fires furnaces of hell and the deep colours used by artists to create the scenes – I am particularly fond of John Martin for this reason – So Bosch is not a let down on this score.

This film from the Khan Academy gives a fantastic insight into this piece.

This segment was my favourite scene.


Visions of the Hereafter

Last, but not least, these four panels were truly stunning and the Ascent of the Blessed was quite beautiful.

If you want to know a little more about this exhibition:

End Note:

David Byrne went as well – not with me, I hasten to add and this is what he had to say.

Honestly, some of the nicest people have been to see this show – feel in good company on this one!



Boschmania Part Two

The exhibition was stunning.  Beautifully set out and the areas under discussion made for a journey through the world of Bosch, his workshop and his followers.

The highlights for me were:

  • Death and The Miser
  • The Wayfarer
  • Saint John the Baptist
  • The Last Judgement
  • Visions of the Hearafter

Death and The Miser

This was possibly my favourite. There is so much detail in this piece that I feared that I would get no further than this one.  The angel gestures towards the crucified Christ to show the miser that the only way to salvation is through Christ, but from under the curtain, a demon offers the man a bag of money as Death, with an arrow pointing directly at the miser, revealing that time is running out to choose.  This image seems to confirm Bosch’s belief that people are utimately responsible for the choices they make in life.

The composition is narrow but the use of lines is integral to this.  Your eye zigzags across the canvas starting with the disguarded lance in the foreground, with the helmet, shield and gauntlet abandoned – perhaps representing the end of a life.  We then move along the wall that appears to be guarded by an imp – similar to one seen in Garden of Delights.  This figure has a casual air about him which, given that he is a harbinger of death, seems a little incongruous.  The central figure is possibly our dying man in earlier life, storing his wealth but surrounded by creatures that create a humour to this.  If we then follow the angel’s pointed hand up to the crucifix in the window, back down along the glow and then again with the pointed arrow, we are confronted with the moment of choice.  It is a split second judgement on behalf of the man.  Which will he choose?  We are left to wonder.

The palette was also of interest as there is an abundance of pink in this painting symbolising divinity – something we see a lot in Bosch’s depictions of Heaven – so can we say that the miser made his choice and rejecting his lifetime work?

The Wayfarer

I was interested to discover that Bosch was the first artist to paint ordinary people rather than religious subjects and this painting certainly ‘holds up the mirror’. The Traveller walks away from a house of loose morals and looks back with an enigmatic expression: is he appalled at what he has seen, or does he long to return and be tempted by what is on offer?

As with all of Bosch’s paintings, nothing is there by chance and it is our own interpretations we can indulge with his work.

The tiny details were fascinating – the use of white paint on the backs pigs and on the spray of urine can only be seen up close and I really liked the evil glint in the ow’s eye as he is about to pounce on his prey.  Not all the bad behaviour was restricted to the house!

Saint John the Baptist

I have included this for one reason only – how bored does John the Baptist look here?  I’m not so sure that the catalogue was right with its description of him lying ‘pensively’.  As John was the ‘one who came before’, this image made me wonder whether he was happy with this situation: “here was a man sent from God, whose name was John. This man came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all through him might believe. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light.” John 1: 6-8


John the Baptist

Boschmania Part One

So I made it!  All the way to ‘s-Hertogenbosch in the Netherlands for the sole purpose of seeing the Hieronymus Bosch: Visions of Genius exhibition.

Although I have travelled abroad quite a bit in the past year, it was usually for another reason and I sought out exhibitions to go to, however, when I saw this in January, it was one that stuck out as a ‘must see’ at all costs.

Arrived in some comfort on the train from Amsterdam – on time, with free wi-fi and freiendly staff wondering up and down with sweeties to sell and cleaning up the mess – take note train services in the UK!!

The town has definitely gone ‘Bosch mad’ with banners everywhere and little statues straight out of Bosch’s imagination…even the cheeky ones.  Just a few weeks before, one of the 400 year old building, next to the house where Bosch once worked, collapsed:

My time slot at the exhibition was not until 6pm, so I had plenty of time to walk around and visit a few places.  The first stop was the Hieronymus Bosch Art Centre which is housed in a former church and was this a surprise.  All of the copies were available to view and there was a lovely little catalogue to go with it.  The most surprising aspect was seeing all of the figures from the paintings – not what you might expect but with the beautiful architecure and stained glass windows in the background, the whole place was like a work of art.

After the art centre, it was time for a little canal cruise where, again, different figures were on show and then it was time for the man himself!