MILAN – Hieronymus Bosch is one of the most enigmatic artists of his time and still today his paintings arouse a particular charm because they are shrouded in mystery and full of double or symbolic meanings. In fact, he gave rise to a painting whose subject is often difficult to decipher, but full of charm and linked to both noble and popular sources, which had extraordinary fortune throughout the sixteenth century influencing many European artists. In his works the artist highlights an absolute mastery of technique and composition, the ability to portray articulated and rich events in a unitary way of the most unthinkable particularity. THE YOUTH YEARS– Hieronymus Bosch is the pseudonym of the painter Hieronymus van Aeken, a Flemish painter who was born on 2 October 1453 in Hertogenbosch, a town in the south of the Netherlands. After having known, at least indirectly, Rogier van der Weyden and Jan van Eyck, masters of southern Flanders, he develops a rather different style than that of the times, choosing, instead of refined details and plastic volumes, a not pictorial but graphic execution, flat, based on the illuminated illustration. The Extraction of the stone of madness now in the Prado dates back to around 1480. The theme refers to the popular saying that indicated the mad as those who have a stone in the head. Between 1480 and 1485 he performed The Epiphany, now preserved in Philadelphia at the Museum of Art, in which the linear trend,MODELS – We do not know anything about Hieronymus’ first training, but we can assume that he learned the rudiments of art in the family, starting his apprenticeship in the workshop at the age of thirteen. Apart from the connections with the family workshop, it is unknown in which ways Bosch’s art developed and there is no news of any travels, but it can be assumed that around 1476 he was able to make a companionship trip to the North, crossing cities such as Utrecht, episcopal seat and important center of miniature, Haarlem, where Geertgen tot Sint Jans worked, and especially Delft, where the Master of Virgo inter Virgines was active. Furthermore, at that time woodcuts and miniatures circulated, often linked to the international Gothic taste. A VISIONARY PAINTING– The subsequent development of Bosch’s painting always maintains the greatest independence, drawing constant inspiration from popular beliefs, mysteries, strange fetes des fous, through a fervent but satirical imagination, full of visions of nightmare and madness, nourishing the his iconographic repertoire of medieval origin of a precise observation of reality, since in the appearance of things and in the color he is in fact of an acute naturalistic sensitivity. The doctrines of the Flemish mystics, especially of Ruysbroeck, greatly influenced his thinking. THE LAST YEARS– Between 1506 and 1508 he created the Triptych of the Judgment of the Groeninge Museum in Bruges, in the right door, the Inferno, where magnified everyday objects are used as instruments of torture. Also from the same period and the Last Judgment of the Alte Pinakothek in Munich. The Crowning with Thorns (London, National Gallery) was traced back to the years 1508-09, a work of the eighties of the fifteenth century, where the greatest influence of Italian painting both in the volumetric rendering of the figures and in the no longer wavy line but angular and broken. A DIFFICULT CHRONOLOGY– The cataloging of his paintings over time has proved very difficult due to the lack of information concerning him: none of his works are dated, and the links between commissions and paintings are almost never witnessed. To these problems, we must add a style that has not developed in a linear way, which has made it difficult to highlight a definitive logical – and therefore chronological – progression. STYLE– His painting, which combines astrological, popular and alchemical motifs, in themes such as the Antichrist and depictions of scenes on the life of the saints, indicates his great and continuous moral and religious anguish, often accompanied by the persuasion of human madness. The imaginative representation of Bosch is a simulacrum of eternal damnation, represented through the use of traditional iconographic elements (presence of fire, scenes of people undergoing corporal punishment) and an exceptional proliferation of symbolic images, in a continuous incarnation and representation of the most scary. In his refined compositions a satirical intent is evident, where his characters, between the animal and the human, are depicted in grotesque and often indecent attitudes,

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