Hieronymus Bosch (about 1450-1516)
In the history of art there is no other artist who would give rise to such a diversity of interpretations and opposite appreciations. Who was that unusual artist?
Was he a suffering heretic who demonstrated disbelief in his art; or a religious person with ironical turn of mind, cynically mocking the human nature; or a mystic with indestructible belief: medieval ascetic obsessed by the nightmare of the coming requital in the spirit of Girolamo Savonarola; or a humanitarian of Renaissance like Erasmus Roterodamus, a dismal misanthrope, or a gay scoffer like Francois Rabelais; a man restoring the past or a prophet; or an oddity gone crazy because of reading too much appocalyptical literature like the mad knight from La Mancha fighting wind mills – fruits of unhealthy imagination?
No one knows the exact date of Bosch’s birth. It is supposed that it was about 1450, and the beginning of his creative work is believed to be from the middle of the 1470s. In 1478 Bosch manried a rich patrician called Aleide van Mervenne, whose family belonged to the nobility of the town. In the documents ot that period Bosch is mentioned as a painter worked for the Si. John cathedral as well as a member of „Brotheihood of the Virgin” attached to that cathedral. In die end of his life he receives orders from the court, that is an evidence of the recognition among his contemporaries. Finaly the local archieves inform that the „famous artist” Hieronymus Bosch died in 1516. That is all what the documents say about the life of the great master.
In the epoch of Renaissance the creative work of Bosch marks the return to the past, to ethic and religious problems of the Middle Ages art as well as to its symbolical language. At the same time nobody else in the North of Europe expressed so deeply resplendence of the reality, no one but him could see the future so vividly. He stands between two epochs of the European culture — Middle Ages and Renaissance.
Soon after Bosch had died his name became famous throughout Europe. Ncverthless in XVIth century it became too difficult to apprehend the complexity and philosofical meaning of his works. His fame waned in 18th century, and only in 20th century he was discovered again. Our contemporaries have seen in his fantastic images that which had escaped the attention of the people of the past. From an odd dreamer he turns into a profound thinker musing upon the eternal questions of good and evil, life and death, belief and justice.