09 August 1516
1480 - 1516
Very little is known about the artist Hieronymus Bosch. His date of birth, thoughts, writings, personality, and the meaning of his art have all been lost to time. What is left, though, is a series of paintings that defy the imagination as well as any set art form before him. What is known is that he received many commissions to paint from abroad, and it is thought that he was taught to paint by his father or an uncle. Four out of his five sons also became painters like their father. In 1488 he joined the Brotherhood of Our Lady, which was a highly respected conservative religious group, which is in part some explanation of his subject matter.
Bosch produced several triptychs, or three-part paintings, all known for their fantastical imagery, illustrating moral and religious stories or concepts. He did not paint in the typical Flemish style, and instead drew with his brush, and as such he is considered a revolutionary artist of his time, producing work in his own autonomous style.
Perhaps because he is such a mysterious figure himself, there are many different interpretations of his works. While some contemporaries thought his works to be heretical, others thought that his work was simply to amuse and engage the viewer. It is now generally accepted that his art was to teach moral and spiritual truths, and that the many fantastical and nightmarish creatures had a well-thought-out and meaningful significance. Yet other interpretations of his work pose that he was a proto-surrealist, and others try to determine a Freudian psychology from his images.
Bosch signed only seven of his works, and dated even less. As such, there are only 25 remaining paintings that are sure to be his. His style was highly influential, and he was imitated by numerous followers, which produced many forgeries of his works.