Hieronymus Bosch was an influential painter in the 15th and 16th centuries. Known as the “creator of devils,” his direct style and mastery of the art inspired many future artists.
Born Jerome van Aeken in about 1450 in Hertogenbosch (now known as the Netherlands), little was recorded about his life. However, it is known that he joined a religious brotherhood in 1486, and took an active part in the affairs in the Confraternity of Our Lady, a group that encouraged public worship.
Bosch’s paintings depict fantastical figures and common medieval images of witchcraft and demons. His work illustrated deep symbols of life and creation and human corruption. Bosch’s pieces and the themes they present are regarded as having marked the end of medieval painting.
Bosch’s paintings fall within three distinct periods. He began by painting traditional religious subjects (“Crucifixion”), then he entered a three-paneled painting phase where he would depict hellish pandemonium (“Hay Wain”), and lastly he painted groups of half-length figures that seemed to be crowding out of the picture (“The Crowning with Thorns”). It is difficult to account for an exact chronology of Bosch's surviving works because only 5 of the 40 paintings attributed to him are signed and none are dated.
Of his recognized works, Bosch was paid for “Last Judgment,” painted for the king of Castile. Also, “St. Anthony” is listed in a 1516 inventory of the art collection of the king’s sister. There is also mention of some Bosch works in Venetian collections.
Bosch died in Hertongenbosch in 1516.