Horrendous torture, carnal mutilations, flying fish, the fires of hell, and the sinister depths of the human imagination are just a few of the illustrations found in the paintings of Bosch.
Hieronymus van Aken, commonly known Bosch, is acknowledged worldwide as one of the most popular and most intriguing artists in history. A true master of symbolism, this paradox-riddled man was a herald in genre painting and landscaping. He was a painter rich in ideas with what is seemingly irrational fanaticism enveloping his work. It is this enigmatic characteristic of his paintings that separate him from the mainstream of fifteenth century art.
Bosch's fascination with the sins of man and thus the punishment for these sins also set him apart. He delved into the furthest reaches of his imagination to create punishments such as being eaten alive by rodent-like creatures. He painted an image of a severed hand pinned to a metal plate by a dagger. Clearly, Bosch's provocative and perhaps even somewhat offensive ideas have proved his work to be the most bizarre of the time.
Much like his work, his life itself is a mystery. Records of friends, patrons, teachers, or any other factors that may have led him to the provocative subject matter included in his paintings are nonexistent. It is this lack of general information that suggests that he led a secluded life in a town that is well outside the mainstream of established Dutch painting; 's Hertogenbosch. What is known is that he was married, owned a house, and died at the age of sixty in 1516. He is also said to have contributed several altarpieces and stained glass window designs to the Cathedral of St. John in his native city. Therefore, it is through his work that one is forced to try to further examine the man. Bosch's work displays conservative and reformist tendencies simultaneously. Unresolved tensions such as these were typical of the transitional era in which Bosch lived. The brewing cataclysm...