Hieronymus Bosch

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Hieronymus Bosch (English pronunciation: /ˌhaɪ.əˈrɒnɨməs ˈbɒʃ/, Dutch: [ɦijeːˈɾoːnimʏs ˈbɔs]; born Jeroen Anthoniszoon van Aken [jəˈrun ɑnˈtoːnɪsoːn vɑn ˈaːkə(n)]; c. 1450 – August 9, 1516) was an Early Netherlandish painter. His work is known for its use of fantastic imagery to illustrate moral and religious concepts and narratives.[1]

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Life

Hieronymus Bosch was born Hieronymus (or Jeroen, respectively the Latin and Middle Dutch form of the name "Jerome") van Aken (meaning "from Aachen"). He signed a number of his paintings as Bosch (pronounced Boss in Middle Dutch). The name derives from his birthplace, 's-Hertogenbosch, which is commonly called "Den Bosch".

Little is known of Bosch’s life or training. He left behind no letters or diaries, and what has been identified has been taken from brief references to him in the municipal records of 's-Hertogenbosch, and in the account books of the local order of the Brotherhood of Our Lady. Nothing is known of his personality or his thoughts on the meaning of his art. Bosch’s date of birth has not been determined with certainty. It is estimated at c. 1450 on the basis of a hand drawn portrait (which may be a self-portrait) made shortly before his death in 1516. The drawing shows the artist at an advanced age, probably in his late sixties.[2]

Bosch was born and lived all his life in and near ‘s-Hertogenbosch, the capital of the Duchy of Brabant. His grandfather, Jan van Aken (died 1454), was a painter and is first mentioned in the records in 1430. It is known that Jan had five sons, four of whom were also painters. Bosch’s father, Anthonius van Aken (died c. 1478) acted as artistic adviser to the Brotherhood of Our Lady.[3] It is generally assumed that either Bosch’s father or one of his uncles taught the artist to paint, but none of their works survive.[4] Bosch first appears in the municipal record in 1474, when he is named along with two brothers and a sister.

's-Hertogenbosch was a flourishing city in fifteenth century Brabant, in the south of the present-day Netherlands, at the time part of the Burgundian Netherlands, and during his lifetime passing through marriage to the Habsburgs. In 1463, 4,000 houses in the town were destroyed by a catastrophic fire, which the then (approximately) 13-year-old Bosch presumably witnessed. He became a popular painter in his lifetime and often received commissions from abroad. In 1488 he joined the highly respected Brotherhood of Our Lady, an arch-conservative religious group of some 40 influential citizens of 's-Hertogenbosch, and 7,000 'outer-members' from around Europe.

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