All these names refer to the world famous artist whose birth name in fact was Jheronimus van Aken. This painter of earthly, heavenly and hellish sceneries was a great innovator of the then contemporary imagery. He reshaped existing themes in an ingenious way, and invented a whole range of compositions new to his time.
Research has shown that he started signing his paintings with the name ‘Jheronimus Bosch’ from the year 1490 and onward. In 1504 we find a first reference of his name in the duke’s account books, where it says Jeronimus Van aeken dit bosch paintre dem[eurant] au bois le duc (‘Jheronimus from Aachen, called Bosch, painter, living in ‘s-Hertogenbosch’) and again, in 1510, where it says Jheronimus van Aken […] die hem selver scrift Jheronimus Bosch (‘Jheronimus of Aachen who writes his name as Jheronimus Bosch’). Thus, Jheronimus decided to bear the name from the town where he lived. Yet, according to some traditions, it’s the other way round – with the town being named after the painter.
The 500th anniversary of his death was marked by exuberant celebrations in the city. Everybody was invited, and the exhibition ‘Jheronimus Bosch – Visions of Genius’ in the Noordbrabants Museum was the highlight of this national event year. The exhibition was based on the most elaborate and international research ever done into Jheronimus Bosch’s artwork, thanks to the Bosch Research and Conservation Project (BRCP). The bulk of the currently existing Bosch paintings and drawings were on display: 17 of his 24 remaining paintings and 19 of his 20 remaining drawings. Nine of the paintings to be displayed had been restored in preparation for this exhibition. Never before had so many Jheronimus Bosch Art works returned to ‘his’ town of ‘s-Hertogenbosch – the place where he’d created these drawings and paintings more than 500 years earlier.
Charles de Mooij, director of the Noordbrabants Museum, said the following: “It was just amazing to see that Jheronimus Bosch – undoubtedly the most intriguing late medieval painter of the Low Countries – still had such a sizable and global audience that admired him, with Bosch fans from all over the world coming together in ‘his’ town of ‘s-Hertogenbosch“.
BOSCH AS A SOURCE OF INSPIRATION
In the years preceding the Jheronimus Bosch Year in ‘s-Hertogenbosch, the first idea of a Bosch Parade came into being – a modern tribute to the master’s fantasy and innovative spirit through a sailing parade. In all of the 500 years after his death, this had never been done before. It was a great opportunity to organise this in his home town, which is well known for its streams. That is why – since 2010 – ‘s-Hertogenbosch has this unique phenomenon: Bosch Parade. An imaginative procession of art works on water, inspired by the work of Jheronimus Bosch, the greatest medieval painter of the Netherlands. It is a globally unique, sailing exhibition of contemporary art. Bosch Parade, just like Jheronimus Bosch in his days, likes to explore boundaries while hiking off the beaten tracks of art, to create an impulse to the contemporary cultural climate.
In the past years, Bosch Parade has sailed the waters of ‘s-Hertogenbosch nine times. The first edition was relatively modest, on the inner city stream called Binnendieze. Because of its huge success, one year later (in 2012) a larger body of water, the Aa river, was navigated. From 2014 onward, larger and smaller works of art have been sailing the Dommel river through the heart of ‘s-Hertogenbosch.
Looking back at the Jheronimus Bosch Year :
THE BOSCH REVIVAL
Each of the nine Bosch Parade editions has brought us numerous stunning and refreshing works of art gliding by. All these works of art, great and small, sailed under the bridges while floating downstream. That may sound easy, but the wind directly affects the designs’ dimensions –and the water narrows affect the choice of (floating) materials as well. Additionally, if there is little wind or current, then the (in)visible swimmers are even more important. But also the oarsmen, the cyclists, the dancers operating the paddle wheels and the treadmills play a vital role. And in Bosch Parade anything is possible – since it is based on Jheronimus Bosch. You name it, and it has already been displayed in one of the preceding editions. For many flashbacks and visual marvels, you can go to our social media (Instagram and YouTube).
THE CITY OF ‘S-HERTOGENBOSCH
Without Jheronimus Bosch, there simply would not have been a Bosch Parade. Apart from his artistic skills, which we honour here, we are also very impressed by his diligence. Jheronimus van Aken not only was aware of the power of a good (brand) name, but he also knew how to maintain a solid network. He was a member of a religious order called the Illustre Lieve Vrouwe Broederschap (‘The Illustrious Brotherhood of Our Blessed Lady’) which was founded in 1318 – having had its seat in the local Zwanenbroedershuis (‘house of the swan-brethren’) since 1483. This brotherhood gave him assignments for various paintings and thanks to his elaborate network he received orders commissioned by influential nobles and sovereigns.
Bosch himself lived at the Markt No. 29 in the house called Sint Thoenis which is nowadays known as ‘De Kleine Winst‘. It was in the year 1462 that his father Anthonis van Aken bought his house that would serve as a painting studio for many decades to come. It is also likely that Jheronimus spent his childhood there and – as through a miracle – this house was not damaged when two directly adjacent buildings suddenly collapsed in 2016. Through the restoration and repurposing of De Kleine Winst, the town of ‘s-Hertogenbosch wishes to create a physical memorial space for its son, Jheronimus Bosch. In public areas you can also find spaces where Bosch is commemorated, for instance with a statue created by the sculptor August Falise that has graced the Markt since 1930.
The charm of ‘s-Hertogenbosch is that there is so much to see from its early past – on foot, on a bicycle and on water. And there’s something for everyone: cultural heritage, nature and contemporary art.
Let’s highlight a few:
- In the NoordBrabants Museum you can admire works by Jheronimus Bosch and his followers.
- A modern exposition about Jheronimus Bosch can be found at the Jheronimus Bosch Art Center.
- You can return to the Dark Ages on silent boats sailing the inner city’s (subterranean) canals of the Binnendieze river.
- Or climb the Saint John’s cathedral tower for a spectacular view of the city.
- You can book a room in the Bossche Kraan in the new industrial heritage hot spot of ‘s-Hertogenbosch.
MORE ONLINE INFORMATION
- Bosch Research and Conservation Project (BRCP)
- Het NoordBrabants Museum
- Canon van Nederland (the Canon of Dutch History)
- Jheronimus Bosch Art Center
- Dagje Den Bosch (A day out in ‘s-Hertogenbosch)
- Erfgoed ‘s-Hertogenbosch (‘s-Hertogenbosch Heritage Centre)
- De Bossche Kraan
- Verken ‘s-Hertogenbosch (Explore ‘s-Hertogenbosch)
The Dutch version of this text was based on various sources:
Het NoordBrabants Museum
Museum Het Zwanenbroedershuis
Canon van Nederland, Jeroen Bosch
Den Bosch (the unofficial name of ‘s-Hertogenbosch)