Hieronymus Bosch Involved in a Secret Society

2016 marked the quincentenary of the birth of visonary painter Hieronymus Bosch, best known for his minutely detailed, surrealistic depictions of heaven and hell, most especially the latter. Not surprisingly, this was the occasion for the publication of numerous books about the artist and his work, some pouring over his paintings via multiple modern technologies to delve into various stages and layers of his work, right down to the original pencil sketches underlying many layers of paint. One book also dives into the layers of Bosch’s psyche and environment that informed his work and notes that he was a member of a mystical secret society!

“In…Jheronimus Bosch: The Road to Heaven and Hell, the art historian and author Gary Schwartz explores Bosch’s links to the institutions of his hometown — including a particularly fascinating look at the secret society the Illustrious Brotherhood of Our Dear Lady, in which Bosch was a sworn brother, cleric and possible exorcist — and to the larger religious, literary, institutional and artistic touchstones that charged his wildly creative imagination.”

Read the entire interview here:


Tangentially, former MINUTEMEN/fIREHOSE bass player mike watt wrote, recorded and released an album called hyphenated-man a couple years ago, partially influenced by Bosch. He explains:

“a big influence was those little creatures in those old hieronymus bosch paintings – I read a theory about them maybe being visualizations of proverbs or aphorisms and me, not knowing much about sixteenth century dutch/flemish culture, made up my own meanings! the main parallel I saw w/the minutemen was how many little trips could roll up into one big one.”

Here’s a copy of the particular painting that inspired these songs with the some of the images numbered and a list of the songs they inspired:

Garden of Earthly Delights

“hyphenated-man” by mike watt

01 arrow-pierced-egg-man

02 beak-holding-letter-man

03 hammering-castle-bird-man

04 bird-in-the-helmet-man

05 belly-stabbed-man

06 stuffed-in-the-drum-man

07 baby-cradling-tree-man

08 hollowed-out-man

09 finger-pointing-man

10 own-horn-blowing-man

11 fryingpan-man

12 head-and-feet-only-man

13 shield-shouldered-man

14 cherry-head-lover-man

15 pinned-to-the-table-man

16 mouse-headed-man

17 antlered-man

18 confused-parts-man

19 bell-rung-man

20 boot-wearing-fish-man

21 thistle-headed-man

22 funnel-capped-man

23 blowing-it-out-both-ends-man

24 jug-footed-man

25 lute-and-dagger-man

26 mockery-robed-man

27 hill-man

28 hell-building-man

29 man-shitting-man

30 wheel-bound-man

Frater Lux Ad Mundi

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