Hieronymus Bosch. 81 reproducties (Michael M. Stanic) 1986
[International Publishing, Munich, 1986, no pagination]
The major part of this vulgarizing publication consists of large-size reproductions, unfortunately of bad quality in many cases. Moreover the introductory text about Bosch’s life and works is very unreliable. An example: Stanic writes that the meeting between Bosch and ‘Jacob de Aelmangien’ (see Fränger’s theories) had a strong impact on the painter. Another example: although there are no documents available confirming this, it may properly be assumed that Bosch was the court painter of Margaret of Austria and of Philip the Fair. The author is way out of line when he writes that ‘according to contemporary written sources’ Bosch was introduced to the sect of the Free Spirit (the only ‘written sources’ about this, date from the 20th century and were produced by Wilhelm Fränger).
As a child of the new era Bosch is said to have introduced a number of iconographic and stylistic innovations but his pessimistic view of the world is still closely related to the Middle Ages. In the explanatory comments on the reproductions Stanic tries hard to start up a ‘dialogue’ between the works of Bosch and the modern viewer. He associates the master’s paintings with the fear of nuclear war, with the manipulation of genes, with dream research and with new diseases (aids is only one step away from being mentioned). Further we have to accept that many things in Bosch’s works cannot be explained and perhaps this was Bosch’s intention: according to Stanic his paintings are ‘a subtle mirage and a fantastic illusion’, just as the world itself.
This is a very understandable conclusion considering the fact that Stanic’ comments abound with erroneous descriptions and wrong interpretations. The Vienna Carrying of the Cross is called a late work, in the Madrid Cutting of the Stone the monk is said to carry a book on his head (only the woman next to the monk carries a book on top of her head), in the Vienna Last Judgement Bosch has omitted the souls of the blessed who go to Heaven (but compare the upper left corner of the central panel), in the Hell of the Garden of Delights Bosch has represented the Flood (a wrong reading of Gombrich’s theory?) and an ‘ecclesiastical dignitary’ is tapping wine from a barrel (this person is obviously a woman with a horned head-dress). And so on… Stanic’ text is downright dilettantism.