“The social status of Hieronymus Bosch” (Bruno Blondé and Hans Vlieghe) 1989
[in: The Burlington Magazine, vol. CXXXI, nr. 1039 (October 1989), pp. 699-700]
Vandenbroeck (1987a) linked Bosch’s iconography to the mentality of the ’s-Hertogenbosch citizenry. His analysis was largely based on data about cities from the Rhineland. Vandenbroeck signalled that it was a pity similar data about the social topography and stratification of late-medieval Dutch cities are lacking.
In the case of ’s-Hertogenbosch such data are now available thanks to a study by Bruno Blondé which was published in 1987. Because Bosch’s name is mentioned in three tax-lists his economic status could be outlined more clearly. These archival data were already known (Gerlach discovered them, see Gerlach 1971b), but they had not yet exhaustively been interpreted from a social point of view.
From the tax-lists (1502/03, 1505/06 and 1512/13) can be concluded that Bosch belonged to the social and economic top layer of his city. The archival documents also tell us that in ’s-Hertogenbosch only a small elite possessed most of the wealth whereas the great majority of the citizens had to be satisfied with much less. At least from 1502/03 on Bosch was part of this well-to-do elite, and not of the middle-class bourgeoisie, as Vandenbroeck claims.