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The Fantasies of Bosch

Nov - 29 - 2012
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A great contrast to the painting by Memling is the one by Hieronymus (or Jerome) Bosch. He was a Dutch artist who lived somewhat later than Memling. His work was influenced by the Flemish school of painting.

But whereas the Flemish painters created a world of serenity and reality, the world of Bosch is one of horror and imagination. His Vision of Tondalys both amuses and frightens us. We see a strange animal forcing a sharp stick through a large ear. A creature with a great head stretches open its mouth to show a table with people both behind and under it. A man caught in a big hat finds that one of his legs is sprouting roots. People fly through the air. In the background fire lights up the sky.

We marvel at the extraordinary fantasy of the artist. We also feel that the man himself must have been very morbid to have been so concerned with pain. Although his pictures, with their weird animals and monsters, look as if they belong to the Middle Ages, they are not too unlike some of the paintings that are being produced today by painters who are called surrealists. They too paint a world of fantasy. Bosch lived at a time when the medieval period was giving way to a new age. His paintings undoubtedly reflect his concern for a changing world. Looked at in this way Bosch and his fantasies are curiously up to date.

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