- (ca. 1450-1516)Dutch painter, born at 's Hertogenbosch. The son of a painter, he seems to have spent his whole life in 's Hertogenbosch, though some art historians find evidence of a trip to Italy. Details of his life are scarce. Even his date of birth is little more than a guess; he was reputed to be an old man when he died in 1516. Much of his work continues the "Flemish style" of late Gothic painting that flourished in the southern Netherlands and northern France throughout the 15th century. His talent was recognized in his own lifetime, and he attracted the patronage of aristocrats and higher clergy and became a wealthy man. Many of his works treat the life of Christ and the saints or present moral allegories, for example Christ Carrying the Cross and St. John on Patmos.But Bosch's subsequent fame rested on other paintings that presented moral allegories in an irrational and hallucinatory form, deeply laden with sensual and sexual images that seem to depict human beings as enslaved to their bodily appetites and offer no hint of redemption. The images are so strange that some art historians interpret them as evidence of his membership in a secret heretical sect. In any case, there is a jarring discord between the beauty of the works and the strange monsters and repulsive actions depicted. Two famous examples of this genre of painting are The Last Judgment and The Garden of Earthly Delights. Their meaning remains uncertain, but his work attracted attention and found a market. In the late 16th century, both Philip II of Spain and his cousin the Emperor Rudolf II admired and collected Bosch's works.
Historical Dictionary of Renaissance. Charles G. Nauert. 2004.
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