Jheronimus Bosch Art Center

Bosch: chemie en hiërogliefen

Van Lennep 1984
Van Lennep, Jacques
Genre: Nonfiction, art history
Uitgave datum: 1984
Bron: Jacques Van Lennep, "Alchemie - Bijdrage tot de geschiedenis van de alchemistische kunst", Gemeentekrediet, Brussels, 1984, pp. 309-340

Van Lennep 1984


“Bosch: chemie en hiërogliefen” (Jacques Van Lennep) 1984

[in: Jacques Van Lennep, Alchemie – Bijdrage tot de geschiedenis van de alchemistische kunst, Gemeentekrediet, Brussels, 1984, pp. 309-340]

[French edition: Jacques Van Lennep, Alchimie – Contribution à l’histoire de l’art alchimique, Crédit Communal, Brussels, 1984]


Although nothing in his biography proves that Bosch had something to do with alchemy, there are so many symbolical references to this esoteric science in his works that according to Van Lennep it is certain that Bosch was well aware of the hermetical philosophy and of its relations with a particular type of humanism. How Bosch acquired this knowledge, the author is unable to explain.


However, alchemy is not the only way to approach the art of Bosch: other approaches, in particular those based on contemporary everyday life and culture, cannot be excluded. Van Lennep also claims that Bosch was definitely not a heretical alchemist, otherwise he would not have escaped the attention of the Inquisition and his works would not have been collected by Philip II, ‘a well-known protector of the alchemists’.


Van Lennep sees alchemical contexts in the Rotterdam Wedding at Cana, the Madrid Garden of Delights and the Lisbon Temptations of St Anthony.




  • Rik Belmans, in: Boekengids, vol. 64, nr. 5 (June 1986), p. 464: The text is elaborate, profound and detailed. The small print doesn’t make this easy reading. No doubt, it is a standard work of reference about alchemical art.



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