“Gardens of Heaven and Hell in the Art of Bosch” (James Snyder) 1985
[in: James Snyder, Northern Renaissance Art. Painting, sculpture, the graphic arts from 1350 to 1575. New York, 1985, pp. 195-217 (= chapter X)]
Most motifs dealt with by Bosch were highly unusual for his times. He was influenced by the popular moralizing literature and by the Bible, shows affinities with the Modern Devotion [pp. 196 / 217] and can successfully be linked with alchemy, astrology and witchcraft [p. 210]. Snyder signals once again that Bosch was probably left-handed [p. 205] and that his perception of the world was on the whole rather pessimistic [p. 207, but see also p. 217, about the Paradise panels in Venice]. In agreement with Gombrich he interprets the central panel of the Garden of Delights as a representation of the Sicut erat in diebus Noe motif [p. 214].
Sporadically Snyder makes small errors. Aleyt van der Meervenne, Bosch’s wife, ‘was the daughter of pharmacists in ’s-Hertogenbosch’ [p. 195]: this is not true. About the link between the Prado Cutting of the Stone and Dutch popular sayings he writes: ‘Lubbert Das was the name given the castrated fool (lubber)’. There is no rhyme or reason to this. And about the hell scene in the Prado Seven Deadly Sins panel we read: ‘Superbia, exhausted, is tempted by a nude lover as a witch holds a mirror before her’ [p. 196]. The creature is not a witch, though, but a ‘normal’ devil.