Hieronymus Bosch – Surreal Before Surrealism



Hieronymous Bosch not only had an awesome name, but it turns out he was literally a dab hand with a paintbursh, and if his pictures are anything to go by he was as mad as a badger too. Hieronymous, or ‘Boschy’ to his mates, was born around 1450 and lived in the Netherlands, but that’s pretty much all we know about him. Selfishly he didn’t leave behind any of his notebooks, diaries or letters. It’s also known that his father, uncles and grandfather were all painters too so one of them probably taught him, but none of them were kind enough to leave any of their piccies behind either. We do know he was a popular painter whilst he was alive though and would get commissions from abroad, which is no mean feat when you consider that the internet hadn’t been born back then and telephones weren’t even real.  I don’t think they had FAX machines either.

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Only about 25 of his works survive today and they are all proper mental, you can see where Dali got some of his ideas from. I always think of Dali as one of the first surrealist painters, but this guy was knocking them out 400 years before him. The subject matter is mostly of a religious bent as most art was back then, not just because everyone was terrified of going to hell (although they probably were) but because the church was one of the richest institutions so if you wanted to make money you had to get jazzy with the God themes to make a buck.

So I’ve selected some of my faves from his short but sweet back catalogue. Some of them are whole paintings, some of them are close ups on some of the weirder details. Don’t have nightmares now….

Hieronymus Bosch - 4

This next one is called ‘A Violent Forcing Of The Frog‘! What a great band name, you can use that for free if you like, I won’t charge, just make sure you send me a T-shirt OK?

Hieronymus Bosch - A Violent Forcing Of The Frog

Check the flute up the arse in the one below, nice move. At the bottom there’s a lady who is being forced to look at her own reflection in a mirror attached to the rear end of a demon. This is punishment for being too vain before her death and consequent descent in to hell. Apparently:

Hieronymus Bosch - Bird Wing Detail

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Hieronymus Bosch - Christ Detail

Hieronymus Bosch - The Garden Of Earthly Delights

Hieronymus Bosch

This last one where they’re all having a lovely sing song from inside of an egg is very Dali-esque, he loved eggs for some reason, I wonder if this was his initial inspiration? Dali actually denied he was inspired by Bosch, he is even quoted as saying “I myself am the anti-Hieronymus Bosch.” What a filthy, rotten liar.

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Hieronymus Bosch - The Concert In The Egg



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