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Hieronymus Bosch
Jheronimus Bosch
Anonymous Hieronymus Bosch Portrat
Posthumous portrait of Hieronymus Bosch, c. 1585
(attr. Anonymous)
Jheronimus van Aken

c. 1450
Died Buried on 9 August 1516(1516-08-09) (aged 65–66)
's-Hertogenbosch, Duchy of Brabant, Habsburg Netherlands
Known for Painting
Notable work
The Garden of Earthly Delights
The Temptation of St. Anthony
Movement Early Netherlandish, Renaissance

Hieronymus Bosch ( born Jheronimus van Aken c. 1450 – 9 August 1516) was a Dutch/Netherlandish painter from Brabant. He is one of the most notable representatives of the Early Netherlandish painting school. His work, generally oil on oak wood, mainly contains fantastic illustrations of religious concepts and narratives. Within his lifetime his work was collected in the Netherlands, Austria, and Spain, and widely copied, especially his macabre and nightmarish depictions of hell.


Little is known of Bosch's life. He was born Jheronimus van Aken. His surname derives from his birthplace, 's-Hertogenbosch ('Duke's forest'), which is commonly called "Den Bosch" ('the forest').

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 lived all his life in and near 's-Hertogenbosch, which was located in the Duchy of Brabant. His grandfather Jan van Aken (died 1454) was a painter and is first mentioned in the records in 1430. 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.

The Owl's Nest Bosch
The Owl's Nest. Pen and bistre on paper. 140 × 196 mm. Rotterdam, Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen

's-Hertogenbosch was a flourishing city in 15th-century Brabant, in the south of the present-day Netherlands, at the time part of the Burgundian Netherlands, and during its lifetime passing through marriage to the Habsburgs. In 1463, four thousand houses in the town were destroyed by a catastrophic fire, which the then (approximately) thirteen-year-old Bosch presumably witnessed. He became a popular painter in his lifetime and often received commissions from abroad. In 1486/7 he joined the highly respected Brotherhood of Our Lady, a devotional confraternity of some forty influential citizens of 's-Hertogenbosch, and seven thousand 'outer-members' from around Europe.

Sometime between 1479 and 1481, Bosch married Aleyt Goyaerts van den Meerveen, who was a few years his senior. The couple moved to the nearby town of Oirschot, where Aleyt Goyaerts van den Meerveen had inherited a house and land from her wealthy family. An entry in the accounts of the Brotherhood of Our Lady records Bosch's death in 1516. A funeral mass served in his memory was held in the church of Saint John on 9 August of that year.


The Crucifixion of St Julia is attributed to Bosch's middle period, c. 1497.

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 twenty-five paintings remain today that can be attributed to him. In the late 16th century, Philip II of Spain acquired many of Bosch's paintings. 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.

Ecce homo by Hieronymus Bosch
Ecce homo

Bosch produced at least sixteen triptychs: of them, eight survive fully intact with another five surviving in fragments. Bosch's works are generally organised into three periods of his life dealing with the early works (c. 1470–1485), the middle period (c. 1485–1500), and the late period (c. 1500 until his death).

Bosch sometimes painted in a comparatively sketchy manner. 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.

His pessimistic fantastical style cast a wide influence on northern art of the 16th century. Today, Bosch is seen as a hugely individualistic painter with deep insight into humanity's desires and deepest fears.

His most acclaimed works consist of a few triptych altarpieces, including The Garden of Earthly Delights.

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: El Bosco para niños

  • List of paintings by Hieronymus Bosch
  • List of drawings by Hieronymus Bosch

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