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Hieronymus Bosch

Hieronymus Bosch is known as the most important artist of the late Middle Ages. His pictures combine reality and his own fantasy, creating a fantastic mix of worlds.


Hieronymus van Aken was born in Den Bosch, also known as ’s-Hertogenbosch, around 1450. He would have been known to friends and family as Joen or Jeroen and he developed his painting talent in the family studio on the Bossche Markt. Around 1480, he married the wealthy Aleid van de Meervenne and they moved into Aleid’s house, address Markt 61. Hieronymus’ fame grew quickly. In 1488, he was permitted to take the oath to become a member of the prominent Brotherhood of Our Illustrious Blessed Lady. He then adopted his pseudonym based on the name of the city he lived in: Hieronymus Bosch. His career flourished thanks to prestigious clients. Bosch’s funeral was held in Sint-Jan’s Cathedral on 9th August 1516. The artist was born in Den Bosch and he lived and died in Den Bosch.




Birth Hieronymus van Aken (circa)


Family studio on the Markt (market) in Den Bosch


Marriage to Aleid van de Meervenne


Bosch becomes a member of the Illustrious Brotherhood of Our Blessed Lady


No later than this year, Hieronymus van Aken begins signing his work as Bosch


Philip the Fair, Duke of Burgundy and Brabant orders a Last Judgement from Bosch


Bosch is buried, the service takes place in the Sint-Jan’s cathedral in Den Bosch


Majority of his work returns to Den Bosch


World-class artist

Hieronymus Bosch is a world-class artist. His characteristic work full of illusions and hallucinations, bizarre monsters and nightmares, depicts the great themes of his time: temptation, sin and judgement. His work was no less popular after his death and it has inspired innumerable artists to the present day. It also means that Bosch is one of the most important artists of the late Middle Ages. His popularity is, of course, connected with the puzzling character of his images. You remain fascinated.

Saint John the Baptist, ca. 1490-95, Madrid, Museo Fundación Lázaro Galdiano

Did You know?

Diverse persons who have figured in history have owned work by Hieronymus Bosch, including Philip the Fair, the duke of Burgundy and Brabant, Margaret of Austria, Henry III of Nassau and the Spanish royal family.

Unique combination of reality and fantasy

The way Hieronymus Bosch depicted his themes was entirely new at that time. He combined reality and fantasy. We see saints, devils, landscapes and non-existent beings brought together in bizarre new worlds. But we can still call Bosch a realist, because his fantasy was grafted onto an existing nature, on human and animal parts. Bosch painted the little owl (athene noctua), for example, both realistically and in an adapted form. Reality was always Bosch’s starting point.

The Hay Wain (detail), 1510-16, Madrid, Museo Nacional del Prado


Did You know?

Hieronymus Bosch didn’t paint on canvas but on wooden panels, which was usual for that time. Artists began to work more often on stretched linen from the 17th century.


Ahead of his time

Hieronymus Bosch’s way of working was also innovative. While earlier masters did their best to apply the paint as smoothly as possible, we can see Bosch’s personal touch in his work. He placed his figures with feeling and spontaneity and even as he was painting, he was still searching for the best form. Bosch was also one of the first artist to take his drawings seriously. He didn’t just use them as sketches or studies but they were also created as works of art in their own right.

Jheronimus Bosch The Field has Eyes, the Wood has Ears, Berlin, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Kupferstichkabinett

Did You know?

In 1488, the painter began to sign his work with his pseudonym: Hieronymus Bosch. This clever form of marketing meant that clients knew which city they could find him in.

Bosch in a minute. Get inspired!

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Jheronimus Bosch is al 500 jaar een bron van inspiratie. Rabobank is trotse partner van de meerjarenmanifestatie ‘Jheronimus Bosch 500’.


The exhibition catalogue – richly illustrated – of ‘Jheronimus Bosch – Visioenen van een genie’ is on sale in the Bosch museum shop!


Want to hear more about Bosch’s paintings? The audio tour guides you through the highlights. Reserve one in the ticket shop!

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Unfortunately, all our lectures are fully booked. Please make use of the free caption booklets in the exhibition.