Prof. Dr. em. B. Aikema
(Università degli studi, Verona, Italy)
"Jheronimus Bosch and the Renaissance in Europe"
Between November 2022 and March 2023 the exhibition entitled Jheronimus Bosch e un altro Rinascimento attracted huge crowds in Milan, Palazzo Reale. In this show, accompanied by a catalogue and a monumental book publication, we argue that Bosch and “Boschian” imagery are a major example of what may be called an “alternative Renaissance”, which is not based on the revival of classical antiquity and the “discovery” of the individual, but rather on the discovery of new ways of expression, including flights of fantasy and, in general, a pluralistic view of the world as it appears in its various and often contradictory forms. This “alternative Renaissance” manifested itself in various parts of Europe, most strongly in the Mediterranean countries, which explains the early appreciation in Spain and Italy of Bosch as a painter of monsters, firebrands and dreamlike visions. In the lecture, I will further explore this point of view, underscoring some of its main issues and methodological consequences.
J. van Benthum
(Radboud University, Nijmegen, The Netherlands)
Bosch's earthly paradises: the left panels of the Garden of Earthly Delights, The Vienna Last Judgement and The Haywain Triptych
Hieronymus Bosch, known as a creator of monstrous creations and ominous landscapes, painted a number of (seemingly) peaceful, paradisiacal representations on the left panels of the Garden of Earthly Delights, The Vienna Last Judgement and The Haywain Triptych. The iconographic programmes on these paradise panels show strong similarities, especially those of The Haywain and The Last Judgement. On these two works, Bosch depicts the Genesis scenes in a traditional manner, similar to the depictions in the Bible Moralisée and the Speculum Humanae Salvationis. Yet the combination of the various creation scenes, as a simultaneous narrative, seems an original innovation. The way Adam and Eve are depicted in the paradise panel of the Garden of Earthly Delights is also unique: Bosch seems to merge multiple meanings and makes typological references to the Church and Christ. The three paradise panels occupy the same place within the triptychs both literally and figuratively. They precede the sinful people engaged in worldly affairs on the middle panels and the apocalyptic representation of hell on the right panels. However, as peaceful and pristine the paradises may be at first glance, Bosch's pessimistic worldview and knowledge of Christian morality pervaded, resulting in a guilty and sinful landscape.
Prof. Dr. M. Berdoy* and P. Berdoy (Biarritz, France)
*author for correspondence: email@example.com
(University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom)
A novel interpretation for the Garden of Earthly Delights: visual sign-posts and the ABC hypothesis
The Garden of Earthly Delights (c 1495-1505; Museo del Prado) is arguably Bosch’s most complex creation. It also remains his most enigmatic, as modern scholarly interpretations continue to vary widely. We present here a novel set of visual observations along with a new framework which may contribute to a notable advance to our understanding of the painting.
We first address the “evidence in the image” irrespective of its interpretative consequences. We examine the visual coherence of the imagery and dissect some of the pictorial language of the work which Bosch uses to guide the viewer. The deliberate “signposts” that we identify are, as far as we can tell, novel and we suggest that any interpretation of the painting should attempt to explain these visual landmarks. They may arguably act as a yardstick by which to compare the value of competing explanations.
We then turn to interpretation and propose a novel framework, summarised as “the ABC hypothesis” which, in addition to being crucially consistent with the historical context, has two principal merits:
First, the hypothesis has high explanatory power. It addresses many of the “signposts” previously identified but also provides an explanation for close to 40 features in the triptych, including several that had hitherto been considered anomalous.
Second, our proposal differs from a number of other interpretations to date in that some of the central elements of our hypothesis are, theoretically at least, open to verification and therefore refutation. More broadly, and crucially, the ABC hypothesis constitutes a framework that provides a direction for future research that may facilitate the unveiling of further features in Bosch’s output.
Prof. Dr. M. Berdoy* (Oxford, UK) and P. Berdoy (Biarritz, France)
*author for correspondence: firstname.lastname@example.org
(Oxford University, Oxford, United Kingdom)
More delights in Bosch’s Garden: Words, Patterns and Probabilities.
We describe a novel set of features in The Garden of Earthly Delights (c 1495-1505; Museo del Prado) which are neither specifically predicted by the ABC hypothesis, nor in contradiction with it.
Resting on three lines of connected evidence (graphical, compositional and statistical) our results suggest the existence of specific words and coded patterns. We discuss the possible strengths and weaknesses in the evidence and its underlying assumptions, paying attention to the dangers (often inevitably present in art history) of post-hoc theorising: how do we know that the patterns that we observe are intentional rather than coincidental? Perhaps uniquely in this context however, we are able to quantify the likelihood of what we see. This suggests that there is more than a 99.999% chance that the painter intended the arrangement that we detected.
Despite this (seemingly) comforting high level of confidence, these findings are so unexpected that we discuss them as part of a possible additional dimension to the reading of the painting rather than present them as a definitive discovery. If they prove to be valid they could also open a more general discussion about the boundaries of Bosch’s work.
Dr. E. De Bruyn
(Jheronimus Bosch Art Center – Scholarly Advisory Board)
Earthly Paradise as the final phase of Purgatory in Boschian Last Judgment triptychs
Dieric Bouts (Lille), Jheronimus Bosch (Bruges, Venice), and some followers of Bosch produced Last Judgment triptychs with left interior panels which represent Earthly Paradise without the presence of Adam and Eve. This has given rise to some confusement and even erroneous interpretations in modern art-historical literature. Apparently, it is little known that according to late medieval popular belief Earthly Paradise functioned as the last phase of Purgatory and as some sort of waiting room before Heaven after the Fall of Man, which is confirmed by a number of textual sources (Vision of Tondal, St Patrick’s Purgatory, even Dante’s Divina Comedia).
However, according to medieval Christian theology, Purgatory (including Eden) will no longer exist after Doomsday, as opposed to Heaven and Hell. So why did Bosch and other artists represent this final stage of Purgatory (with angels accompanying naked souls) in a Last Judgment context? Is this indeed an ‘unorthodox’ idea, as some modern authors have claimed, or did these artists have a special intention in mind?
K.Harada and Dr. A. Vandivere
(K. Harada, ArtCare Conservation, Los Angeles, USA - A. Vandivere, Mauritshuis, Amsterdam, The Netherlands)
Mandijn’s Monsters: Shining a light on the techniques and motifs of a Bosch follower
Many paintings attributed to a ‘follower of Jheronimus Bosch’ have been connected to Jan Mandijn (c. 1500 Haarlem – c. 1560 Antwerp). Two paintings that have recently undergone technical examination and restoration will be presented as case studies: Mandijn’s only signed work – The Temptation of Saint Anthony (1535, Frans Hals Museum), and Saint Christopher and the Christ Child (c. 1550, Los Angeles County Museum of Art). Both have extensive underdrawings revealed using infrared reflectography. Similar to the oeuvre of Jheronius Bosch, attribution of works to Mandijn is challenging. The significance of underdrawing in Mandijn’s working practice will be considered, and if drawing style might assist with the attribution of other paintings. Other artistic choices – as the use of fingerprints to create texture – will also be described.
Mandijn was one of Bosch’s most accomplished followers, who – rather than simply copying Bosch– made inventive compositions full of bizarre and fantastical imagery. These include: monsters emerging from eggs, bare trees with jugs, decapitated heads, and burning buildings. Jheronimus Bosch painted versions of the Temptation of Saint Anthony (Lisbon) and Saint Christopher (Rotterdam), and a comparison of motifs and techniques will also allow us to consider how inventive and innovative Mandijn was.
Dr. D. Van Heesch
(Royal Library of Belgium)
Weaving Bosch and Bruegel: Canon Formation in a Brussels Tapestry Series (c. 1560)
The four Brussels tapestries “after” Hieronymus Bosch (c. 1450-1516) in San Lorenzo de El Escorial are undoubtedly among the most remarkable survivals of the painter’s near-cult status among the European elite. This well-documented case has received ample attention in scholarship, but much less known is the fact that the aristocratic Bosch craze also inspired other Brussels workshops to experiment with the legacy of the popular painter in the luxurious medium of tapestry.
This paper deals with several fragmentary sets of a History of Hercules series, first woven in the workshop of Frans Schavaert in about 1560. Central to this study are the medallions in the borders of the Brussels tapestries – woven “marginalia” picturing fools, monsters, drunkards, beggars, thieves, prostitutes and other outcasts of society. Curiously themed to the weird and the wonderful, the images will be shown to derive from Bosch and his followers, Pieter Bruegel the Elder most notably among them.
While the border designs clearly evince a knowledge of the famous Bosch tapestries, most motifs will be argued to originate from less-conspicuous forms of art, such as prints, cloth paintings and even decorated trenchers. This treasure trove of Bosch-inspired imagery has not yet been fully documented nor interpreted and is absent from the vast literature on the master and his afterlife in Netherlandish art.
The present paper looks at the provenance of the Hercules tapestries, the significance of the Boschian marginalia and the various ways in which the source material was translated in the weaving process. Among other things, this study attempts to show that this long-forgotten series may well be classed among the earliest known responses to Bruegel as the up-and-coming “new Bosch”.
A. Hobill, PhD Candidate,
(Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada)
Pieter Coecke as Intermediary: Inserting the link between Bosch and Bruegel
The inclusion of “Hieronijmus Bos. Inventor” on Pieter Bruegel the Elder’s print Big Fish Eats Little Fish points to the influence Bosch had on the younger artist and to the continuing cultural relevance of Bosch’s work far into the sixteenth century. As the Bosch Research and Conservation Project discovered, in Bruegel’s Dulle Griet, a barrel-shaped creature in the left-hand corner also appears in one of Bosch’s underdrawings. Such a finding indicates Bosch’s influence on Bruegel went beyond his completed works and presumes that Bruegel may have some access to Bosch’s workshop materials. The question then begs; how did a painter working decades after Bosch’s death have access to these materials?
This paper posits that Bruegel’s link to Bosch’s workshop was through his master, Pieter Coecke van Aelst. Coecke, better known for his Romanesque paintings and tapestry cartoons, did have some Boschian imagery in his oeuvre. There are potential connections between Coecke’s Antwerp studio and Bosch’s immediate followers that may have resulted in access to Bosch’s workshop materials. I propose that it was through the Coecke workshop that Bruegel was primarily exposed to Bosch, including preliminary sketches and other workshop drawings, which lead him to Boschian inspired imagery throughout his career.
Y H Hsu, PhD Candidate,
(Radboud University, Nijmegen, The Netherlands)
In the Manner of Jheronimus Bosch or Jan Wellens de Cock? A Case Study of Christ in Limbo
The study investigates pictorial sources in the copy series of Christ in Limbo through a case study acquired by the Chimei Museum in Taiwan. Most scholarship has suggested that this copy series of Christ in Limbo should be attributed to the followers of Jheronimus Bosch (ca. 1450–1516), based on boschesque depictions of devils and hell. Since approximately the 2000s, however, the Christ in Limbo series has more frequently been associated with the group of Jan Wellens de Cock (1460/1480–1521), whose works show considerable debt to Bosch. With an opportunity to closely examine Christ in Limbo in the Chimei Museum, this presentation revisits the boundaries between the works of Bosch and de Cock and their followers, as well as facilitates future technical studies on the copies of Christ in Limbo.
Prof. Dr. em. J. Koldeweij
(Radboud University, Nijmegen, The Netherlands)
Altarpieces or exempla?
Some thoughts on Bosch’s triptychs and ‘das gross beth’ in the Nassau Palace in Brussels
Research into Jheronimus Bosch's triptychs to date has focused on matters of attribution and chronology based on stylistic and technical aspects on the one hand, and, on the other hand, on the interpretation of the iconography of the images. Implicitly, a religious function in a church or chapel is assumed, or, alternatively, a use as a 'collector's item' or conversation piece within a prestigious interior. However, especially for the Last Judgement triptychs in Vienna and Bruges and for the Visions of the Hereafter panels in Venice, an original destination as exemplum justitiae should also be considered. Comparable End of Time representations by Dirk Bouts and Hans Fries, for example, can be mentioned as direct parallels. Should we in addition also consider such an original function for Bosch's other triptychs that allude to Creation and End Times (the Haywain, the Wayfarer triptych, the Garden of Earthly Delights)? Precisely in the late fifteenth and early sixteenth century, the subjects for the exempla justitiae were greatly extended. The remarkable description by Antonio de Beatis and Albrecht Dürer of the 'gross beth' in the Palace of the Nassau in Brussels may also point in this direction for the triptych known as the 'Garden of Earthly Delights’.
Prof. Dr. em. F. Koreny
(University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria)
Observations on Hieronymus Bosch's painting style
The lecture wants to make the different painting techniques in Bosch's work visible. Clear signs of discrepant painting styles can be seen both in secured works and in the oeuvre attributed to him by the BRCP.
Dr. G. Kubies
Listening to the angels… or why was the Last Judgment from the Wawel Royal Castle in Cracow collection not painted by Jheronimus Bosch?
Among the six known paintings depicting the Last Judgment with citations from the Garden of Earthly Delights (Madrid, Museo Nacional del Prado) is the triptych of the Last Judgment kept at the Wawel Royal Castle in Cracow. In addition to the figures of Christ, Mary, St. John the Baptist, apostles or human figures rising from graves or being thrown out by the sea, one of the key iconographic elements of the final spectacle on Earth is angel trumpeters. This motif will be the subject of my presentation proposal. I will analyze the trumpeting angel group from the Cracow painting within the context of analogous motifs from both Last Judgment triptychs by Jheronimus Bosch (Bruges, Groeningemuseum & Vienna, Akademie der Bildenden Künste) and the Seven Deadly Sins and the Four Last Things (Madrid, Museo Nacional del Prado) probably created in the painter’s studio or by his follower. The comparative material, which includes paintings from the 15th and 16th centuries, also incorporates two preserved late medieval aerophones (the Billingsgate trumpet & a trumpet made by Marcian Guitbert) and an organological treatise Musica getutscht und außgezogen (1511) by Sebastian Virdung. Presented iconographic and musicological considerations will allow us to define the “canonical” motif of the angel-trumpeter consistently used by Bosch and thus (formulating a conclusion) answer the essentially rhetorical question contained in the title.
(Dr. Eva Kahan Foundation)
“A Rose by Any Other Name”: Connoisseurship and Questions of Attribution in Jheronimus Bosch’s “Haywain" Triptych
The Viennese art historian Dr. Fritz Koreny is currently disputing the authorship of multiple works by Jheronimus Bosch, raising a number of valid points on the basis of the practice of connoisseurship which are difficult to ignore. This presentation is a case-based investigation into Koreny’s methodology of attribution in comparison with the wealth of scientific data gathered by the Bosch Research and Conservation Project in regards to Bosch’s oeuvre. It aims to make a balanced analysis using two primary sources of information – comparative connoisseurship, as laid out by Fritz Koreny in his book Hieronymus Bosch - die Zeichnungen: Werkstatt und Nachfolge bis zum Ende des 16. Jahrhunderts, and the scientific data of the BRCP – in an attempt to illuminate a potential methodology for attribution in the case of Bosch’s The Haywain (c. 1510-1516). This analysis is undertaken within the larger context of a study of the practice of late medieval Netherlandish panel paintings with an emphasis on the economic and social contexts which may have affected the ways in which Bosch’s artworks were produced and sold around Europe.
Dr. M. Michael
A rock-man in Dresden, a relative of the tree-man – once Bosch and away?
A drawing kept in Dresden (Kupferstichkabinett, C 3995) hides a rock-man, a relative of the tree-man, and a devilish triple face. This combination of “hidden face” and “triple face” is unique (perhaps there are even four intended faces). The practice of hiding devilish heads in a landscape is known in the Bosch-group (Garden of Earthly Delights, Hieronymus, Gent). The rock-man, bent like the tree-man, turns to his left as the tree-man turns to his right. Even before the discovery of the rock-man, a close relation to Jheronimus Bosch had been established. It was presumed that the draftsman was “a contemporary, perhaps even a companion of Hieronymus Bosch”. Motific lines lead to the Hermits Triptych, and the Haywain. In the ‘microstructures’ we can see stylistic details, which can also be observed in the core group of Bosch drawings, and nowhere else (Tree-Man, Turtle-Monster). Is it therefore possible, that the drawer worked closer to the workshop for some time, or even within the workshop, and afterward he went his way? Maybe we even know him already, we just didn’t know that he – in his youth – had also worked in the Bosch workshop?
Dr. F. Nies
Facing the end of time
In his Historia de la Orden de San Jerónimo (1595-1605) Fra José de Siguenza felt the need to defend Bosch's work against charges of heresy. We do not know the reason for the accusation, but we do know the monk’s denial of it. He did this partly based on the conviction that Philip II would never have tolerated the work of a heretic in his house. This text was one of the reasons for my PhD-research, which approached both Bosch's work and its reception from the religious spirit of the times. A reading of Bosch's work from this point of view leads to observations that allow a new interpretation of part of the oeuvre and show more coherence in its themes. For example, a close reading of both the works known as the Last Judgment and the relevant biblical texts shows that Bosch did not want to paint the Last Judgment, but the preceding apocalypse. With this interpretation, the panels can be related to The Haywain and The Garden of Earthly Delights, with which they then have both structure and theme in common. The lost central panel of the Wayfarer-triptych can also be filled in from here.
Dr. C. Salsi
(Università Cattolica, Milano, Italy)
The Allegory of Human Life by Giorgio Ghisi and its pictorial copies. A revival of a 'Bosch-like' motif in the second half of the 16th century
The engraver Giorgio Ghisi (Mantua 1520-1582) worked in Antwerp between 1550 and 1555 at the invitation of Hieronymus Cock. His most famous burin is Allegory of Human Life, 1561, probably started in Antwerp but first published during Ghisi's later stay in Paris.
Flemish modes of this engraving are evident. However, the layout of the central area reveals Ghisi's important debts to Bosch's peculiar fantasy world. We refer to the two sections into which the print is sharply divided: a dark area inhabited by fierce creatures besieging an old man, and a bright part characterized by a female figure walking through a lush garden. This spatial bipartition seems to derive directly from the compositional scheme of the landscape with St. Anthony in the center of the main panel of Lisbon's Temptations of St. Anthony, a replica of which the engraver had certainly known.
The print was the subject of several pictorial copies by international artists: along with Ghisi's subject they also disseminated a very specific figurative motif from a famous masterpiece by Bosch and his typical language.
L. Scholten, PhD Candidate
(Radboud University, Nijmegen, The Netherlands)
Specialised employees of Jheronimus Bosch?
In 1508 the highest ranked members of the ’s-Hertogenbosch Brotherhood-of-Our-Lady, the ‘sworn’ members, called upon their fellow sworn brother Jheronimus Bosch for advice on the polychroming and gilding of their altar-piece. Shortly after Jheronimus’ shared his thoughts on the task ahead, the work was carried out by multiple craftsmen. Two craftsmen invested by far the most working hours: Jan Claessoen († 1514/15) and Ghysbrecht Hoeyen. In 1511/12 Jheronimus designed a chandelier to be hung in the chapel of the Brotherhood-of-Our-Lady. After the brass was cast the same Jan and Ghysbrecht took care of finishing the chandelier. Jan was responsible for the polychroming and Ghysbrecht for the gilding of the object. This division of labour was most probably based on their expertise and it is justified to assume the same division was in place when the aforementioned altar-piece was polychromed and gilded in 1508-10.
In this talk, I would like to elaborate on the archival documents about the altar-piece of the Brotherhood-of-Our-Lady and on other archival documents in which Jan Claessoen and Ghysbrecht Hoeyen are mentioned. Could these specialised craftsmen have been members of Jheronimus’ workshop?
Prof. Dr. G. Van der Snickt
(University of Antwerp, Belgium)
‘MA-XRF imaging on The Last Judgment triptych in Vienna’ (Authors: Geert Van der Snickt, Maarten Van Kerckhoven, Nouchka De Keyser, Stijn Legrand en Koen Janssens)
In an attempt to exactly understand the subsurface layer buildup paintings and the nature of hidden materials, several dedicated diagnostic tools (e.g. X-ray radiography and Infrared Reflectography) have been developed. Recently, technical research on paintings has made a leap forward due to the dawn of so called ‘chemical imaging’ techniques. The added value of this type of instruments lies in the fact that complex chemical data, collected without sampling, is reproduced into comprehensive visual images that can be easily interpreted. These images do not only identify the painting materials, but also show how they were distributed by the artist over the paint surface, in this way supplying us with a direct look into the paint handling technique. The ability of scanning MA-XRF to visualize the distribution of chemical elements detected at and below the paint surface renders this spectrometric method particularly helpful for revealing hidden materials. The latter aspect is especially relevant for the technical study of works by Bosch who is renowned for the intensive application of modifications in the course of the creative process. This talk discusses the insights that were obtained by MA-XRF imaging on the Last Judgement panels by Bosch.
Prof. Dr. R. Spronk
(Queen’s University; Kingston, Ontario, Canada - Radboud University, Nijmegen, The Netherlands)
The Vienna ‘Last Judgment’ triptych revisited: the underdrawings
L. Hoogstede (MA), PhD Candidate
(Stichting Restauratie Atelier Limburg (SRAL), Maastricht, The Netherlands)
The Vienna ‘Last Judgment’ triptych revisited: the paint layers
It has now been firmly established that the Vienna Last Judgment cannot have been the "grant tableau de paincture de neuf pietz de hault et unze pietzde long, ou doit estre le jugement de Dieu, assavoir paradis et infer,” for which Philip the Fair had paid the advance of 36 pounds in September 1504. Jos Koldeweij proposed in 2012, at our 3rd Jheronimus Bosch Conference, that the saint depicted on the right exterior wing is not Saint Bavo, but St. Hippolyte, and he concluded that the triptych must have been painted for the Bruges courtier Hippolyte de Berthoz. He also suggested that the work was commissioned for a chapel in the Bruges Cathedral of St. Salvator that de Berthoz had endowed, which was dedicated to St. James. Koldeweij’s hypothesis was supported in 2016, when the Bosch Research and Conservation Project discovered small areas of gold and vermillion in the lower section of the grisaille of St. Hippolyte, remnants of the coat of arms of Hippolyte de Berthoz that was later scraped away and painted over. In 2017, MA-XRF scanning by the Antwerp AXES group in collaboration with the BRCP confirmed the presence of many more of such traces from this largely removed coat of arms.
What has received little scholarly attention thus far are the relatively large and sometimes even dramatic differences between the interior of the triptych and its exterior, both regarding their underdrawings and their execution in paint. The lack of attention for these issues might be related to the complex state of preservation of especially the paint layers on the interior of the triptych. These topics will be addressed in the lectures by Ron Spronk and Luuk Hoogstede, both members of the BRCP. Prof. dr. Ron Spronk is a Professor of Art History at Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario, and the Jheronimus Bosch Chair at Radboud University in Nijmegen, the Netherlands. Drs. Luuk Hoogstede is Senior Panel Paintings Conservator at the Stichting Restauratie Atelier Limburg (SRAL) in Maastricht, the Netherlands.
Dr. D. Tamis
(Freelance art historian and journalist)
Family functions: a comparison of the Bosch-production to the organisation of other family workshops
Intended as a backdrop to the individual cases discussed at Defining Boundaries, this paper will compare two types of information. How does what we understand about the Bosch production from written sources and from new research that has been published in recent years correlate to what is known of contemporary workshop practices in other, nearby locations? In what way does the Bosch-production, with what for this purpose can be dubbed as an additive style, fit in to what we know of painters’ family businesses? Supported by a few, not always unequivocally explained contemporary documents, it is generally assumed that Bosch as a fourth generation member of a painters’ dynasty worked within the frame of a family workshop. As a rule, various forms of collaboration, or division of labour, in the early modern painter’s workshop served to enhance productivity and/or the quality of the product. A rationalised and standardised working method is a prerequisite to making such an organisation work. Specifying and categorizing the Bosch-esque production thus might provide a useful vantage point to questioning the boundaries of the oeuvre.
Dr. E. Vázquez Dueñas
(Complutense University of Madrid, Spain)
Bosch imitators in Spain during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries
Around 1560 the courtier and antiquarian Felipe de Guevara wrote in his Commentary on Painting and Ancient Painters that there were many imitations of Bosch’s paintings in Spain, some even fraudulently signed with his name. The objective of this paper is, firstly, to study the presence of these copies in the Spanish royal collections during the 16th and 17th centuries through different royal inventories. Specifically, it will cite as an outstanding example the inventory of the Pardo Palace dated in 1614 which mentions copies of four paintings by Bosch, ordered to be made after the fire of 1604. Although the originals were preserved, they were very old and damaged. Additionally, two specific cases of paintings by these Bosch imitators preserved in Spain are analyzed: The Last Judgement (Dean’s Palace of Tudela), and Temptations of Saint Anthony (Massaveu collection).
Prof. Dr. H. van der Velden
(University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands)
An Indian at Epiphany: Bosch and Columbus’s First Voyage to the New World
The strange and remarkable figure in Bosch’s Prado Epiphany has been dubbed one of art history’s greatest riddles, but he is nonetheless by all but unanimous consent identified as the Antichrist. This rather surprising identification begs the obvious question who would ever want or accept the incongruous presence of the enemy of Christ in an altarpiece dedicated to Christ’s incarnation, a surprise compounded by the shaky foundations on which this identification appears to rest. This paper will explore another possibility and seek to identify the odd figure as a retainer of the second Magus, whom Bosch included purposefully in response to the reports of a most extraordinary event that suited his wildest imagination: Columbus’s first voyage to the New World. Bosch’s bizarre and outlandish man is not the Antichrist, I think, but what he imagined to be an Indian.
Dr. M. van Wamel
Filling the void. Copies of Bosch’s Ecce Homo
Bosch’s Ecce Homo (ca. 1475-1485) is a fascinating work, not in the least because it contains a substantial number of devotional portraits. Before they were overpainted, the portraits of the fifteen family members filled the better part of the lower half of the painting. When the orants on the Bosch’s principaal were no longer visible, their absence left the composition unbalanced. The several artists who copied the work had to deal with this problem, even those who had never seen it or had no knowledge of the original composition. In this paper I will discuss the solutions several artists came up with to ‘fill the void’. The location of one of the most interesting copies was long unknown, but fortunately the work resurfaced in 2017. It is now in a private collection in Belgium and has been studied and photographed. A dendrochronological analysis was made by Peter Klein. This paper will focus especially on this ‘lost copy’ and the information it provides, about both the principaal as well as the practice of copying in the sixteenth century.
(Jheronimus Bosch, Ecce Homo, oil on oak panel, 71,4 × 61,0 cm, Frankfurt am Main: Städel Museum, Eigentum des Städelschen Museums-Vereins e.V., inv. no. 1577)
(San Diego Independent Scholars, USA)
Bosch’s ‘Conjurer”: Autograph, Workshop or Follower? Can the Unrecognized Subject Determine Authorship?
For more than a century Bosch’s Conjurer was accepted as autograph or a late copy of an early work. Dendrochronology determined it was not painted before 1496-1502. In 2016, the BRCP attributed it to a “Follower”after c. 1525, stating the work “derives from a prototype by Hieronymus Bosch,” and that “Bosch’s invention is likely to have been more complex in its imagery than the surviving painting.” This paper proposes to reassess these conclusions based on the discovery that the painting cleverly depicts identifiable individuals involved in documented events occurring between 1503-1509. Thus, it is a late painting when Bosch was at the height of his fame and probably obliged to leave much of the execution to his workshop. However, certain faces are beautifully painted and likely by Bosch himself. While not portraits, they are caricatures easily recognized by its intended audience. The cleverness of the composition and the beauty of some of the faces could only have come from Bosch, making the St. Germain-en-Laye Conjurer deserving of being called, at least, a masterpiece by Bosch and his workshop.