The people of the Netherlands have shone in many sectors – from architecture to graphic design, fashion to sustainable energy. The Dutch have also dazzled in the artistic sphere, impressing culture vultures with groundbreaking work that has redefined our idea of art. These are just a few of Holland’s most famous artists of all time…
Hieronymus Bosch (born sometimes in the 1450s, died in 1516)
I always say there are three reasons why, if in Madrid, you simply cannot skip a visit to the Museo del Prado: Velázquez’s Las Meninas, Francisco Goya’s Tres de Mayo, and Hieronymus Bosch’s The Garden of Earthly Delights.
The latter, a triptych depicting the Garden of Eden on the left, the world in the middle and the Last Judgement on the right, always features on Top 10 lists of the greatest paintings of all time yet it is considered by historians to be one of the most perplexing works by a great artist.
For one, historians cannot identify how Bosch managed to steer his painting so far away from the work of contemporaries such as Jan van Eyck or Rogier van der Weyden. It doesn’t help that history has preserved very little information about the artist; we know he lived in the lively state of Brabant, enjoyed great popularity in his lifetime, and was part of the Brotherhood of Our Lady – a religious group comprising the elite of the land.
Art critics have hailed Bosch’s keen ability to expand the mind the very instant his works are viewed. Regarding The Garden… Art expert R. Falkenberg notes, “When we realise that the work is a reflection of ourselves in front of the painting, as soon as we look inside it we start to dream. It is a mirror image of ourselves.”
The painting is filled with phantasmagorical animals, surreal colours (turquoise mountains, for instance) and sculptural landscapes. Every corner is worth hours of contemplation, each part of the whole is filled with grace and beauty; as dreamlike as the painting may be, it invites the viewer to contemplate both earthly and spiritual matters and to comprehend that as beautiful and wondrous as life is, we will be called upon to answer for the dreams we choose to make real…
Words Marisa Cutillas