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Originally named Jheronimus van Aken, the great Renaissance artist Hieronymus Bosch was born around the year 1450 in the city of ‘s-Hertogenbosch where he spent most of his life. The city is located in what was the State of the Holy Roman Empire, called Duchy of Brabant, in the Burgundian Netherlands. Not much is known about the artist’s life since historians never found letters or diaries written by him; nonetheless, some records were found. Information about his personal life, like his personality, his artistic process, his thoughts of the world and mostly the meaning behind his art continue unknown, opening his work to multiple interpretations.
Some historians presume that Bosch witnessed a terrible fire in 1463, around his early teens. His grandfather, Jan van Aken, which he lived with since he was born, was also a painter, as well as three of Bosch’s uncles and his father, Anthonius van Aken, who presumably taught him to paint. Anthonius was connected to the religious group founded in their town name Illustrious Brotherhood of Our Blessed Lady, who adored the Virgin Mary, working as an artistic adviser. Bosch became part of the religious group in 1488, which provide with some information about the artist in their account books.
During his lifetime, Bosch was able to achieve great success with his artwork and became known as one of the greatest painting masters of the Flemish Primitive, also known as Early Netherlandish painting, a period of the Northern Renaissance. He would often receive commissions from other countries, like Austria and Spain, while many other artists would study by copying his work. Pieter Bruegel the Elder became the most well-known artist to follow his work. Bosch depicted religious narratives with a fantastical twist, often dwelling into darker subjects like hell with many creatures.
The artist got married to Aleyt Goyaerts van den Meerveen around the year 1480. Meerveen came from a wealthy family and inherited some land in the town of Oirschot, where the couple made their home. Although many of Bosch’s works were lost, historians estimate he completed at least sixteen triptychs - meaning an artwork divided into three parts usually used in churches - in which only eight are intact. The most renown of these paintings includes The Garden of Earthly Delights. Historians divide his production into three periods, and most of his surviving paintings are from his late period. Although Bosch is seen as an artist of the Nothern Renaissance, his work is extremely individualistic and unique, like no other painter of his time. The brilliant artist passed away in August of 1516, which was documented by the Brotherhood of our Lady.