“Het verklaren van het werk van Bosch en Bruegel” (Domien Roggen) 1936
[in: Nieuw Vlaanderen, nr. 10 (7th March 1936), pp. 6-7]
[Also mentioned in Gibson 1983: 81 (E53)]
When it comes down to the stylistic analysis and technical research of the works of Bosch and Bruegel art historians who don’t speak Dutch experience the same difficulties as their Dutch and Flemish colleagues. It is a different matter, though, when old documents or archival records have to be consulted. Many of Bosch’s and Bruegel’s often enigmatic subjects can be explained thanks to contemporary literature and knowledge about late medieval folklore (processions, theatrical performances etc.). Researchers who speak the same language as Bosch and Bruegel (Dutch) can play an important part in this context.
Roggen then relates the weird faces of Bosch’s executioners to masks worn by actors during the annual procession in ‘s-Hertogenbosch. The ‘hermit’ (no doubt St. Anthony) who used to be a part of this procession probably inspired Bosch too. The monster that devours sinners on the right wing of the Garden of Delights, the Cutting of the Stone in the Prado and the Conjurer in St. Germain en Laye are linked to late medieval Middle Dutch texts (i.a. The Vison of Tondal). Numerous motifs from the Haywain and the Garden of Delights are still waiting for an explanation. According to Roggen they can be explained by scholars who are specialised in the late medieval literature and culture of the Netherlands and he encourages the scholars of Middle Dutch to further explore this field.