Hieronymus Bosch (Anonymous) 2004
[Sirrocco, London, 2004, 80 pages]
In the case of amateurish, popularizing booklets such as this one, it is always easy to draw up a list of all kinds of stupidities: the Christian name of Bosch’s father was Laurent [p. 23, although on page 78 we read the correct version: Anthony!], Gerard Groote was a disciple of Ruusbroec [p. 25], the blue devil on top of the haywain is called a blue troubadour [p. 37], the St John on Patmos panel is preserved in ’s-Hertogenbosch [p. 45, should be: Berlin], and so on. But this book offers more than sporadic mistakes: the complete text is worthless (one can understand why the author wanted to remain anonymous). Many pages are wasted on a confusing summary of Fraenger’s theories, after which these theories are rejected. Every now and then the names of other Bosch scholars are mentioned (Bax, Dixon, Vermet, Koldeweij, Vandenbroeck) but this never leads to an enlightening summary of their opinions, let alone to a valuable personal point of view. The last sentence of the book claims that we should not waste too much time and attention on the riddle of Bosch’s oeuvre, and that really tops it all.
The only positive thing about this publication are the colour illustrations, among them an interesting colour reproduction of the Seven Deadly Sins panel (a work by a Bosch follower, currently in Geneva) on page 71. Apart from that, only one reaction is suitable in the case of this printed monstrosity: it sucks.