Yesterday, I discovered a great candidate for ‘Bosch’s Disciple’ on the internet. Tommorow I am going to the University of Oregon library, and look at the papers of Damon Knight, a science fiction writer of note, who lived and died in Eugene Oregon. Damon wrote ‘Will The Real Hieronymus Bosch Please Stand Up?’ that was on the internet ten years ago, and has disappeared. Damon will love my raising of his work – from the dead! I will give him credit for my discovery in regards to the missing figures in ‘The Wedding Feast At Cana’.
I am grateful to the Muses for the inspiration of my new Muse, Lara Roozemond.
Lara: Kun je naar het Zwanebroedershuis gaan en op zoek gaan naar Roesmont-wappen? Maak een video, alsjeblieft.
In October 2015, the Bosch Research and Conservation Project, which had been responsible, since 2007, for technical research on most of Bosch’s paintings, rejected the attribution to Bosch and deemed it to be made by a follower, most likely the discipulo. In response, the Prado Museum stated that they still consider the piece to be authentic.
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 Illustrious Brotherhood of Our Blessed 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.
Bosch was born and lived all his life in and near ‘s-Hertogenbosch, a city in 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 Illustrious Brotherhood of Our Blessed Lady. 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. Bosch first appears in the municipal record on 5 April 1474, when he is named along with two brothers and a sister.
Bosch’s paintings with their rough surfaces, so called impasto painting, differed from the tradition of the great Netherlandish painters of the end of the 15th, and beginning of the 16th centuries, who wished to hide the work done and so suggest their paintings as more nearly divine creations.
Bosch did not date his paintings, but—unusual for the time—he seems to have signed several of them, although some signatures purporting to be his are certainly not. About 25 paintings remain today that can be attributed to him. In the late sixteenth century, Philip II of Spain confiscated and acquired many of Bosch’s paintings, including some probably commissioned and collected by Spaniards active in Bosch’s hometown; as a result, the Prado Museum in Madrid now owns The Adoration of the Magi, The Garden of Earthly Delights, the tabletop painting of The Seven Deadly Sins and the Four Last Things and The Haywain Triptych.
According to Stefan Fischer, thirteen of Bosch’s surviving paintings were completed in the late period, with seven surviving paintings attributed to his middle period. Bosch’s early period is studied in terms of his workshop activity and possibly some of his drawings. Indeed, he taught pupils in the workshop, who were influenced by him.
The exact number of Bosch’s surviving works has been a subject of considerable debate. His signature can be seen on only seven of his surviving paintings, and there is uncertainty whether all the paintings once ascribed to him were actually from his hand. It is known that from the early 16th century onwards numerous copies and variations of his paintings began to circulate. In addition, his style was highly influential, and was widely imitated by his numerous followers.
Over the years, scholars have attributed to him fewer and fewer of the works once thought to be his. This is partly a result of technological advances such as infrared reflectography, which enable researchers to examine a painting’s underdrawing. Art historians of the early and mid-20th century, such as Tolnay and Baldass, identified between 30 and 50 paintings that they believed to be by Bosch’s hand, while a later monograph by Gerd Unverfehrt (1980) attributed only 25 paintings and 14 drawings to him.
Little is known of Bosch’s life, though there are some records. He spent most of it in the town of ‘s-Hertogenbosch, where he was born in his grandfather’s house. The roots of his forefathers are in Nijmegen and Aachen (which is visible in his surname: Van Aken). His pessimistic and fantastical style cast a wide influence on northern art of the 16th century, with Pieter Bruegel the Elder being his best-known follower. His paintings have been difficult to translate from a modern point of view; attempts to associate instances of modern sexual imagery with fringe sects or the occult have largely failed. Today he is seen as a hugely individualistic painter with deep insight into humanity’s desires and deepest fears. Attribution has been especially difficult; today only about 25 paintings are confidently given to his hand along with 8 drawings. Approximately another half dozen paintings are confidently attributed to his workshop. His most acclaimed works consist of a few triptych altarpieces, the most outstanding of which is The Garden of Earthly Delights.
The Seven Deadly Sins and the Four Last Things is a painting attributed to Hieronymus Bosch or to a follower of his, completed around 1500 or later. Since 1898 its authenticity has been questioned several times. In 2015 the Bosch Research Conservation Project claimed it to be by a followe
In 1560, Felipe de Guevara wrote about a pupil of Bosch, an unnamed discipulo (pupil), who was as good as his master and even signed his works with his master’s name. Immediately after this, and without starting a new paragraph, Guevara refers to the painting of the Seven Deadly Sins as characteristic of his style. This led some scholars, as early as Dollmayr (1898) and most vocally Stechow (1966), to ascribe the work to this pupil.
The alleged poor quality of the drawing had led to the incorrect belief it dates from Bosch’s early period. The attribution to the discipulo was revived in the catalogue of the 2001 Bosch exhibition in Rotterdam, by Vermet and Vandenbroeck, who also suggested that several of the costumes suggest a much later date, around 1500, so that the awkward drawing and execution cannot be attributed to youthful imperfection. They also noted that the painting is not on oak, adding to their doubts about the attribution to Bosch.
Nowadays, most art historians agree that the costumes point at a date in between 1505 and 1510; it is argued that the key characteristics of the underlying drawing, the way the pictorial surface was developed, and the variety of strokes are entirely consistent with Bosch’s later paintings. Furthermore, the theme, symbolism and the composition itself is profoundly original, which would make it extremely unlikely that an unknown pupil could have painted it.
28 They are a nation without sense,
there is no discernment in them.
29 If only they were wise and would understand this
and discern what their end will be!