Hieronymus Bosch (1)

It wasn’t straightforward to get to s’Hertogenbosch by 8 o’clock in the morning in time for the opening of the Bosch exhibition, where there was already a long queue of international art pilgrims.   I’m glad I made it because it’s not a very easy exhibition to absorb, given how relatively few fully authenticated surviving works there are, mixed with copies and works by followers.   I found I particularly enjoyed the assembly of nearly the complete oeuvre of his surviving drawings which are so much less familiar and where it is easier to understand his curious mixture of late medieval storybook piety and coarse scatological humour and to enjoy the free fluency of his invention of fictive monsters.   What comes across is the strange intensity, as well as playfulness, of the imaginative life of an otherwise entirely conventional craft painter living and working just next to the marketplace in a regional town in northern Brabant, far away from his painter contemporaries.

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