The immense collection of sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Bosch copies and imitations offers an extremely interesting field of research, and although some of these works are of inferior quality others may duly be called aesthetic gems that should be held in high esteem by their current owners (whether they be museums or private collectors). This field is still largely unreclaimed, though. In 1967 and 1975 respectively, Jan Karel Steppe and Hans Holländer argued strongly in favour of a more thorough investigation of the works produced by Bosch followers. Holländer even considered these works visual comments on Bosch’s paintings, supplying us with more information than the rare early written sources dealing with Bosch.
In 1980, major progress was made with the publication of Gerd Unverfehrt’s dissertation: Hieronymus Bosch – Die Rezeption seiner Kunst im frühen 16. Jahrhundert. In this book, Unverfehrt analyses the earliest Bosch followers, from the first three decades of the sixteenth century. Later Bosch followers were only dealt with marginally, though, and Unverfehrt was primarily interested in matters of style, attribution, and dating, less in iconographic interpretations. Nevertheless, it is still a standard work of reference today and it can only be regretted that professor Unverfehrt passed away in 2010.
In the period from 1980 up to now, pioneering work has also been done by Paul Vandenbroeck and others, most recently by Marc Rudolf de Vrij in his impressive (but rather expensive and hard to find) study Jheronimus Bosch – An Exercise in Common Sense (2012). Unfortunately, both major 2016 exhibitions on Bosch (Visions of a Genius in ’s-Hertogenbosch and El Bosco in the Prado) largely ignored the fascinating world of Bosch followers, thus leaving room for further research in the (near?) future. During the 4th International Jheronimus Bosch Conference (’s-Hertogenbosch, Jheronimus Bosch Art Center, April 2016) the members of the Bosch Research and Conservation Project announced that after having analysed the authentic oeuvre of Bosch they are planning to spend more attention to Bosch’s heritage in the forthcoming years.
Everyone with an academic training knows that every scholarly study begins with the search for basic material. In the recent past, Hans Hendrickx has engaged upon a (not always easy) quest looking for the works of Bosch followers and their present-day whereabouts, using Unverfehrt, Vandenbroeck, De Vrij, and others as his guides. This quest has resulted in a collection of hundreds of works by Bosch followers from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. These works are presented in this section of JeroenBoschPlaza, in alphabetical order according to their title (or title keyword) and accompanied by some basic information (artist, date, location…) and (whenever possible) a colour illustration. In the future, Eric De Bruyn is going to provide each entry with a scholarly comment focusing on earlier literature and iconography.
In due course, this section may be expanded with the works of later Bosch followers (from the eighteenth century up to now), but for now we are still focusing on the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, so the visitor should be aware that this is a site under construction! Obviously, corrections, additions, and expressions of moral support are always more than welcome.
[explicit 11th June 2020]