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He is the most famous son of ‘s-Hertogenbosch: Hieronymus Bosch. Also known as Hieronymus Bosch, Jeroen Bosch, El Bosco, Den duvelmakere. His paintings and drawings hang in renowned museums around the world, while more than five hundred years after his death his eccentric imagery and surreal fantasies still daily inspire visitors, scholars and artists – including those at Bosch Parade. 

From his birth in about 1450 until his death in 1516, Hieronymus Bosch lived and worked in ‘s-Hertogenbosch. The city was an economic, cultural and religious hub with distinguished guests from all around Europe, and it was home to sensational artists and craftsmen. 

There, amid that rich culture and vital daily city life, Hieronymus created his world view, his great themes matured: temptation, sin and accountability. On the Bossche Markt, he produced his characteristic paintings full of wondrous monstrosities, diabolical nightmares and frenzied dreams of lust. For patrons and collectors in the farthest corners of Europe.

Hieronymus Bosch was a visionary innovator: even today, his fantastic dream images offer many starting points for a varied depiction and interpretation of modern life. They encourage reflection and dialogue, show us how societies function and people relate. In his city and far beyond.

That characteristic city centre, where Hieronymus found his inspiration, was his home: he was part of the social-religious elite, was a member of the Illustrious Brotherhood of Our Blessed Lady (Illustre Lieve Vrouwe Broederschap) and involved in the spectacular construction of the St John’s Cathedral. Hieronymus even changed his surname from ‘Van Aken’ to ‘Bosch’. Thereby tying himself and his city together forever.

Hieronymus Bosch 500

In the Bosch year 2016, ‘s-Hertogenbosch celebrated the medieval master, five hundred years after his death.

And it did so exuberantly, with all kinds of activities and events. Like the unique and hugely visited exhibition Hieronymus Bosch – Visions of a Genius in the Noordbrabants Museum, based on the most extensive international research ever conducted on Bosch’s oeuvre. Specially for the exhibition, the lion’s share of Bosch’s bequeathed work returned to ‘s-Hertogenbosch: 17 of only 24 remaining paintings and 19 of 20 drawings. Moreover, nine of the paintings on display were restored in preparation. Never before have so many works by Hieronymus Bosch been on display in one place at the same time.

But in addition to the exhibition, many other activities were thus organised – by, for and with people of ‘s-Hertogenbosch. With, above all, their world-famous fellow townsman as an inexhaustible source of inspiration. 

This is how (years earlier) the idea of Bosch Parade was born: a fantastic parade on the water with contemporary art projects inspired by the work of Hieronymus Bosch. A unique floating show featuring art on and off the beaten track, as an homage to the master’s imaginative and progressive worldview and his contribution to the cultural climate. 

In 2010, the first, still modest, Bosch Parade navigated the Binnendieze, the waterways in the centre of ‘s-Hertogenbosch. It proved so successful that in 2012 a larger water was sought, the Aa River. From 2014, large and small works of art sailed across the Dommel River in the heart of ‘s-Hertogenbosch during Bosch Parade. 

Hieronymus revived during Bosch Parade

Since 2010, nine editions of Bosch Parade have floated along the waters of ‘s-Hertogenbosch, each time presenting new impressive and unusual works of art. From immense to minuscule, they passed under the bridges and allowed themselves to drift with the current, while thousands of spectators watched. 

Such a floating parade sounds simple, but the bigger the work of art the more it is impacted by the wind. Moreover, the water dictates the choice of floating material and equipment. And if there is no wind or current, (in)visible swimmers are indispensable. Or rowers, cyclists, dancers who turn the paddle wheels and treadmills. So, apart from artistic ingenuity, the works of art also require ingenious constructions to move forward and (above all) stay above water.  

No matter how crazy it may seem – because, after all, it was inspired by Hieronymus Bosch… – or it will have passed by during one of the editions of Bosch Parade. Check out our social media (Instagram and YouTube) for reviews and visual gems.