Van Den Bossche 1944
Jeroen Bosch (Louis Van Den Bossche) 1944
[Pro Arte, Diest, 1944, 48 pages]
[Also mentioned in Gibson 1983: 2 (A8)]
This author’s style of writing is not always lucid and concise but it is clear that he considers Bosch a satirical moralist who is at the same time an observer keeping his distance in the margin. Bosch painted in a rational way, he painted a view.
Van Den Bossche presents a chronological arrangement of the oeuvre of Bosch, based on stylistic analysis, but the author himself admits that this is only hypothetical. He also focuses on some of Bosch’s compositional methods.
In his early period Bosch’s view did not yet have metaphysical insight. Everything is brought back to man’s folly. From the Haywain on the central idea of his world view is expressed: Evil has spread all over the world due to the devil’s power. For Bosch the devil is a reality, but not a material one: the devil is a spirit. In order to paint this spirit Bosch depicts details he has observed in nature true-to-life and joins them together building up the most fantastic objects and creatures. Because of this he was able to create an otherworldly atmosphere: the reality painted by Bosch is a creation of the Evil One. The hybrid creatures and forms refer to a diabolical threat that pervades the world we are familiar with. In his last period (the one with the half-length figures) Bosch centralizes the evil forces in individuals: the passions are now being separated and are pushed to their extremes.
In spite of the fact that the painter focuses on the acts of Evil in a rather pessimistic way, the diabolical forces are always beaten by the dignity of Christ and the saints. These saints are almost always hermits, probably Bosch will have recognized something from himself in them: he who had understood the stupidity and folly of mankind, may have felt the desire to turn his back on the world and to flee to quiet landscapes where no people live…
Several times Van Den Bossche signals affinities between Bosch and the theatrical world of his age (in particular concerning the composition of his panels). It is likely that Bosch was also influenced by the art of illumination, by proverbs and sayings, by fantastic legends and by the observation of mutilated or crippled persons and beggars in his environment.