Van Dijck 2010
“Jheronimus Bosch inspired by People in his Environment: Research from the archival Sources” (L. van Dijck) 2010
[in: Eric De Bruyn and Jos Koldeweij (eds.), Jheronimus Bosch. His Sources. 2nd International Jheronimus Bosch Conference, May 22-25, 2007, Jheronimus Bosch Art Center, ’s-Hertogenbosch, The Netherlands. Jheronimus Bosch Art Center, ’s-Hertogenbosch, 2010, pp. 112-122]
In this contribution, based on archival research, Van Dijck gives more information about Bosch’s direct environment (his family, pilgrims from ’s-Hertogenbosch and the Confraternity of Our Lady). Bosch’s mother was Aleid van der Mynnen. She was the daughter of the tailor Bartholomeus van der Mynnen who had an extra-marital affair with a woman called Margaretha, who also had other children out of wedlock by different fathers. Bartholomeus married a prosperous woman, Agnes van Hyntham. Thus Agnes was Aleid’s stepmother but she was raised by her real mother and therefore stems from a socially insignificant small-town family. Her father, who lived elsewhere, was a prosperous tailor and died before the birth of Jheronimus.
Bosch was greatly influenced by his father’s side of the family and it is no surprise that he became a painter. His paternal grandfather Jan van Aken was a painter who moved from Nijmegen to ’s-Hertogenbosch around 1425. Jan remarried in 1434 and died when he was about 73 years old (Jheronimus was about 3 years old at that time). Jan van Aken’s four sons, Thomas, Jan, Hubertus and Goessen all became painters [Apparently Van Dijck is confused here: of course grandfather Jan had five sons, Anthonius (Bosch’s father and also a painter), being the fifth]. Jan (one of Bosch’s uncles) was presumably an apprentice in Bruges where he became a citizen in 1430. This uncle Jan and grandfather Jan are the only ones in the family known as ‘masters’, an honour that Bosch himself never received. This means that Bosch had no apprentices, but only assistants. Anyone who claims that Bosch had apprentices should produce evidence. At the age of about 17 Bosch had no grandparents, no uncles and his only two cousins had moved from the area. He probably lived with his grandfather Jan until 1462 when his father bought a house on the market square (which at the time of the father’s death was still not fully paid for). It stands to reason that Bosch received his training as a painter from his father. Bosch’s education probably started at the Latin school, otherwise he could never have been a cleric (only clerics could become a sworn member of the Confraternity of Our Lady). After his school years Bosch became an apprentice in his father’s workshop, which Bosch continued together with his brothers Goessen and Jan after the father had died (when Bosch was about 27).
Between 1400 and 1614 some 36 citizens of ’s-Hertogenbosch undertook a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. Bosch’s rich neighbour, Lodewijk Beys, undertook the pilgrimage three times (in 1500, 1504 and 1513). The priest Henric van der Loo, a colleague of Bosch in the Confraternity of Our Lady, left for Jerusalem in 1500 but died during the pilgrimage. When Bosch was about 18 years old, Willem van Brakel, member of an important family, left for the Holy Land and returned safely. In 1511 Henrick van Deventer and his wife also left and returned safely. There were also pilgrimages to Compostela, Rome and many other places. Many inhabitants of ’s-Hertogenbosch, devout or criminal, crossed the lands of Europe and returned with tales of adventure. Whether Bosch himself ever undertook a pilgrimage is a question that cannot be answered.
In 1486 Bosch was admitted to the Confraternity of Our Lady as a sworn member, which made it possible for him to mingle in a society of about 60 to 80 elite members. As a sworn member Bosch followed his prosperous father-in-law, Goyart van de Meervenne, who died when Bosch was about 9 years old. The succession of Goyart should have fallen to his son (also known as Goyart) but this brother-in-law of Bosch died at an early age, maybe as a student in Louvain. The Confraternity assembled weekly in the church of Saint John and frequently at a festive table. In 1500 one third of the members consisted of priests, and two thirds of those priests had children. Van Dijck supposes these priests had normal households (so the mothers and the children did not live somewhere else). In 1500 all members at the festive table were clergyman: they had all attended the Latin school (Jheronimus probably as well) and most of them had been students at a university. Bosch’s colleagues in the Confraternity were higher clergyman and rich citizens. They must have made quite some impression on Bosch, he himself being of humble origins. Maybe he sought the company of fellow artists such as Simon van Couderboch, who was a musician and organist but also head of the Latin school and town clerk, or the architect Jan Heijns, whose brother-in-law was the engraver-designer Alard Duhamel. Heijns died one year before Bosch. Bosch’s wife, Aleid van de Meervenne, made it possible for him to live a life free from financial worries in a beautiful house at the market square.
Finally Van Dijck identifies the curly headed figure in the Crowning with Thorns (Madrid) as Jan Pijnappel, because of the pine cone on the lapel of this man. He probably ordered the painting. The same Jan Pijnappel ordered the Temptations of Job triptych (now in Bruges), which was inherited by his daughter Johanna whose second marriage was to don Diego de Haro in Antwerp.