consider the traditions of altarpieces and individual devotional imagery, whether paintings or illuminated manuscripts, that prevailed during the period when Bosch was learning his craft. Another chapter (9) will show how his achievement founded a heritage of both forms and novel subjects, particularly everyday subjects, for paintings and prints that lasted the entire sixteenth century. Bosch was not a lonely genius but a grandson and son of an artist family, who participated, as a serious member, in a religious confraternity devoted to the Virgin Mary. But the play’s the thing, and Bosch’s own play with Netherlandish visual culture made him the unique, lastingly fascinating creator who merits yet another book. His prominent signatures and aristocratic patrons and collectors helped to establish the very concept of an individual artist, whose work merits attention for its own distinctiveness. In the process, Bosch also helped to establish a new attention to how something was fashioned rather than its subject alone, conditioning what later would become known as the “aesthetic” or “art” rather than a guild craft. One cannot account for the engaging images that follow simply by acknowledging Bosch’s commonalities with pictorial tradition or conventional subject matter. It is hoped that some of their imaginative invention emerges as well, from the discus-
sions as well as the imagery itself. But the artist also wanted his viewers to respond to his presentations, and the discussions should elucidate those for the curious reader of this book. No discussion of Hieronymus Bosch would be possible without the achievements of the great scholars of the twentieth century, from Ludwig Baldass to Charles De Tolnay, but especially Walter Gibson, esteemed senior colleague and friend. Already the young twenty-Wrst century has proved so fruitful for the research and understanding of Bosch’s art, especially in the work of younger Dutch scholars. In addition, the author would especially like to single out two individuals, less visibly published about this artist but nonetheless thoughtful analysts of his oeuvre and generous interlocutors with their own originality, Herbert Kessler and Reindert Falkenburg. To Agnès de Gorter, who fostered this project, and to Elizabeth Silver-Schack, who sustained its production, the deepest thanks are due. This book has a dual dedication: Wrst, to my daughter, Laura, with joy in her willingness to explore new places and ideas and with happy memories of encountering Madrid and Bosch together; second, to my once and future mentor, Professor Herbert Kessler, who taught me how to combine deep commitment with rigorous scholarship.
10 " Hieronymus Bosch Detail of plate 12 Garden of Earthly Delights Central panel
A stunningly illustrated, groundbreaking exploration of the work of the Low Countries great visionary painter.