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Bosch. Genius Recipe - Great And Terrible
Bosch. Genius Recipe - Great And Terrible

Video: Bosch. Genius Recipe - Great And Terrible

Video: Bosch. Genius Recipe - Great And Terrible
Video: Bon appétit! James Acaster serves up pure genius! | The Great Stand Up To Cancer Bake Off 2023, May

One of the founders of Russian pathographic science, Grigory Segalin, believed that a genius needed hereditary giftedness and not a very strong mental disorder. Here's a recipe. Let's see if the life and fate of Erun Antonison van Aken, whom the whole world knows under the name of Hieronymus Bosch, corresponds to this “medical prescription”.

Hereditary artist

Hieronymus Bosch. Garden of earthly delights, right wing: Hell. Fragment
Hieronymus Bosch. Garden of earthly delights, right wing: Hell. Fragment

"Garden of Earthly Delights", right wing: "Hell. Fragment"

Hieronymus Bosch (c. 1450-1516) - Dutch painter, one of the greatest masters of the Northern Renaissance. He is famous for his multi-figured, bizarrely fantastic images and compositions. Bosch is considered one of the most mysterious artists in the history of Western art, an "honorary professor of nightmares", whose signature for some reason became the abbreviated name of his hometown Den Bosch.

With the hereditary endowment of our hero, everything is according to the proposed "recipe". His grandfather and grandfather's brother, two uncles, father and brother of Jerome himself were painting. Brother Goossen inherited his father's workshop in 1478. So Jerome was able to join family artistic traditions from childhood. However, none of his relatives were known outside the city. Except for Hieronymus Bosch, whose fame has crossed the borders of not only his country, but also continents.

In 1478, Bosch married, had no children and, as they say, was not a particularly happy person. Nevertheless, the marriage brought material prosperity to the artist, and, not yet becoming well-known enough, Bosch could afford to paint what he wanted.

Diagnostic guess

Schizotypal personality disorder. Unspecified form of schizophrenia with intermittent course.

Sick fantasy

The lack of biographical information forces us to resort to a more thorough analysis of Bosch's works and an attempt to imagine whether a mentally normal person could draw such pictures? And if not, what kind of mental illness must he have suffered?

Bosch's work in many ways does not correspond to the general trends in the development of painting of his time. Some elements of the artist's style (special symbolism, decay of form, semantic and compositional congestion) are characteristic of the drawings of patients with delusional feelings and hallucinations. Changes in artistic techniques (an increase in decorativeness, loss of imagery) in his last works also correlate with these signs.

One of the modern researchers of Bosch's workDonat Battilotti writes:

“They saw in him the predecessor of surrealism, a sort of outstripped Salvador Dali, who drew his images from the unconscious; saw a psychopath suffering from an oedipal complex and obsessed with sex; saw an adherent of the heretical sect of spirituals, or the Adamites, who believed that sexual freedom returns a person to a state of innocence before the Fall, or an inexorable persecutor of vice.

Hieronymus Bosch. Altar of St. Anthony, triptych, center: The Temptation of St. Anthony
Hieronymus Bosch. Altar of St. Anthony, triptych, center: The Temptation of St. Anthony

“Altar of St. Anthony ", triptych, central part:" The Temptation of St. Anthony "

Authors of psychiatric textbooks and manuals often cited fragments of his triptych "The Garden of Earthly Delights" as an example of oneiroid (dreaming) experiences of a mentally ill person. This picture is truly "mesmerizing, but leaves the feeling that you are dealing with an unhealthy fantasy," the pathology of which increases from picture to picture. "In general, there is reason to assert that Bosch's uniqueness as an artist is due to his mental illness, namely, schizophrenia."

Some biographers sometimes view the grotesque and bizarre imagery of Bosch's writings as the result of an overly impressionable or psychotic obsession with sin and witchcraft prevalent on the eve of the Reformation, or, conversely, as a result of a deep knowledge of Christian texts and sermons. But most likely, Bosch's Christian piety was superficial. This assumption is dedicated to the study by Linda Harris "The Secret Heresy of Hieronymus Bosch" (2014).

In the Brotherhood of the Free Spirit

Culturologist Alexander Garbuz believes that “real people - the artist's contemporaries - perfectly coexist on Bosch's canvases - with freaks, monsters, fantastic images of half-birds, half-beasts, etc. There is indeed a resemblance to the art of the twentieth century, in particular to surrealism … Bosch, the motives of many of the artist's paintings are raised to theological treatises, esotericism and heretical teachings. It is known that Bosch was a member of the Brotherhood of the Mother of God, the Brotherhood of the Free Spirit, knew perfectly the ritual mysteries, was familiar with alchemy, astrology and magic. Many frightening, “synthetic” images resemble the characters of folklore, known for proverbs, sayings, fairy tales and legends … Bosch, no doubt, created his paintings in an altered state of consciousness, in which mythological thinking is activated,operating with images of the unconscious”.

Opinions from the depths of the centuries

It is noteworthy that many of Bosch's contemporaries did not see pain in his work. Librarian El Escorial monk Jose de Siguenza wrote: "The difference between the works of this man and other artists is that others try to portray people as they look from the outside, he also has the courage to portray them as they are from the inside." The great Spanish writer Lope de Vega called Bosch "the most magnificent and inimitable artist", and his work - "the foundations of moralizing philosophy."

Portrait of Hieronymus Bosch by a contemporary
Portrait of Hieronymus Bosch by a contemporary

Portrait of Hieronymus Bosch by a contemporary

An interesting observation is made by the philosopher and mathematician Vasily Nalimov, who drew attention to the fact that “that Bosch (15th century) was able to see with his inner vision almost modern aircraft, tanks and submarines … All these, of course, are only visions. But how could they have appeared many centuries before the technical possibilities were ripe for this? " And he makes a sensational assumption: "Fantasy in its images, perhaps, not so much outstrips the real scientific and technological progress, as directs it?" Here is another "seditious" confirmation of the fact that schizophrenic disorder can be a "driver" (driver in the broad sense of the translation of the term) of art and science.

Art critics of the 19th century tried to explain Bosch's work using the psychoanalytic theory of Sigmund Freud, suggesting that only "the release of the supernatural forces of the unconscious could give rise to the hellish visions of the Dutch master."

Bosch and prima

Bosch's technique is called alla prima. This is an oil painting technique in which the first brush strokes create the final texture. Based on the results of modern research, art historians attribute 25 paintings and eight drawings to the preserved heritage of Hieronymus Bosch. Only seven of Bosch's creations are signed. History has not preserved the original names of the paintings that Bosch gave to his creations. The names we know were assigned to the paintings from catalogs.

The world of unreal monsters

Garden of earthly delights, right wing: Hell. Detail
Garden of earthly delights, right wing: Hell. Detail

"Garden of Earthly Delights", right wing: "Hell. Detail"

Professor of psychiatry Oleg Eryshev writes: "Even a superficial acquaintance with the paintings of I. Bosch allows us to judge the mental illness of the author." The available chronology of the artist's works, which is confirmed by the manner of his writing, indicates that the initial stage of creativity was characterized by paintings that were psychologically understandable for the viewer and were of a religious and moralizing nature. It is known that the Spanish king Philip II, the emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, ordered to hang the "Seven Deadly Sins" in the bedroom of his residence in Escorial.

But even during this period, in some of Bosch's paintings, single "monsters" appear, which can be considered superfluous in the context of a completely realistic plot. Gradually, Bosch's paintings acquire an absolutely fantastic character, where only the general plot is clear and terrifying scenes with unimaginable participants begin to dominate. The creatures that inhabit the paintings are, in fact, "non-existent animals." In pathopsychology, there is a test called "Drawing of a nonexistent animal", when the patient is asked to draw something similar to clarify the characteristics of his thinking. "Healthy" people come up with some kind of monster with five legs or one horn, but the mentally ill, as a rule, portray something incredible, something about which one can say: "You can't imagine it on purpose." So Bosch inhabited his paintings with such animals,which a mentally healthy person simply cannot come up with. Oleg Eryshev is inclined to consider this "a manifestation of painful abstractness and paradoxicalness of the artist's thinking."

Over time, the customers of Bosch's works become not only noble citizens and religious brotherhoods of his city, but also persons of the royal families of different countries

The emotional inadequacy of the people depicted in the paintings of the Dutch artist is striking. They are incredibly tormented, but their faces often remain indifferent. Similarly, an indifferent naked girl from The Last Judgment looks like, along which snakes crawl and who is pursued by a lizard in boots and with a torch in her hands. This symptomatology is typical for some forms of schizophrenic disorders.

Hieronymus Bosch. Altar of St. Anthony, triptych, center: The Temptation of St. Anthony
Hieronymus Bosch. Altar of St. Anthony, triptych, center: The Temptation of St. Anthony

“Altar of St. Anthony ", triptych, central part:" The Temptation of St. Anthony "

Another specific feature of Bosch's creations is the disunity of characters and situations, where everyone behaves as if there is no one else around him. The picture "Ship of Fools" is especially indicative in this respect: here who sings, who shouts, who drinks, who draws water or wine. As psychiatrist and artist RB Khaikin aptly pointed out, this is reminiscent of the setting of an old insane asylum.

Fragments of the works of Hieronymus Bosch of this period are very similar to the paintings of mentally ill people who painted similar figures after 500 years.

Waking dreams

Hieronymus Bosch. Garden of earthly delights, right wing: Hell. Fragment
Hieronymus Bosch. Garden of earthly delights, right wing: Hell. Fragment

"Garden of Earthly Delights", right wing: "Hell. Fragment"

In recent years, the artist has turned to gospel stories. Images of fantastic monsters disappear, but real images of evil executioners appear, which are more terrifying than Bosch's previous fantasies.

What Bosch paints is very difficult, and perhaps impossible to imagine for a person with a normal mind. And for the oneiroid state of the psyche, scene-like fantastic visual and auditory hallucinations with representations of hell or heaven, space flights and wars are just characteristic. Telling the doctor about them, patients call it a waking dream. At the same time, they see themselves in this unusual environment. Note that in some of the paintings, art historians believe, Bosch put his image.

It is very likely that the artist painted his own vivid and possibly recurring visions. Psychiatrist RB Khaikin notes such a feature of Bosch's work as "fear of empty space": the artist tries to fill every centimeter of the picture with figures and objects. This tendency is also characteristic of the creativity of the mentally ill. Some of the poses in which the characters in Bosch's paintings are reminiscent of the freezing postures of the mentally ill in catatonic stupor (painful immobility).

Some researchers, confirming the version of the mental illness of Hieronymus Bosch, refer to the fact that there is no historical data about the last years of his life. Relatives could deliberately "hide" the sick artist from prying eyes. Oleg Eryshev comes to the conclusion that “the great Dutch artist suffered from a chronic, possibly seizure-like mental illness in the form of schizophrenia”. This explains a lot in his work, although, of course, not everything.

“Could such a genius, unusual creativity take place without the intervention of a mental illness? Most probably not. It would be a different Bosch, and perhaps there would not have been any Bosch."


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