Persuading Dr C to accompany me to an art gallery in Bruges was a major triumph and one I was determined would be an “opinion changing experience for her” following on from her positive experience viewing The Slav Epic exhibition in Prague. My trump card was The Last Judgement Tryptych by Hieronymus Bosch, also known as El Bosco in Spain which I mention for reasons that will soon be apparent. This is a Flemish painting from around 1486 and is full of such weird details as to be quite challenging to view and interpret.
We entered the Groeningemuseum, paid our entrance fee and immediately asked “where is the Bosch painting?”. The answer was ………….. “it’s in Madrid!!!!” Oh bugger!!
Our wander around the museum was interesting but a bit of an anticlimax obviously, every triptych we looked at was compared with what we knew of The Last Judgement, stupid I know but unavoidable. The rest of the day was spent with our friends Henry and Susanne from Denmark drinking Belgian beer and plotting how to organise a trip to Madrid based on the duration of the El Bosco exhibition at The Prado.
We arrived in Madrid on September 1st just one day away from our 45th wedding anniversary, and pre-booked in to the wonderful Hotel Preciados that certainly matched the stunning Buddha Bar Hotel in Budapest. We asked the concierge to get us tickets for the El Bosco exhibition which he said he would sort out online for us. But a few hours later he told us that you could buy tickets for The Prado online but had to take your chance for an exhibition entry ticket in the morning queue. Oh bugger again! General entry tickets for The Prado museum were booked for September 4th and we decided to walk there an hour before opening time at 8.30am on that day.
Over the next 3 days we had a great time in Madrid but Dr C started to get severe knee pains that had almost immobilised her by the time September 4th arrived. Reluctantly, I went alone!
Arriving at The Prado at 8.30am there were a number of different queues and to my relief I discovered that the smallest queue of around 50 people was for those who already had general entry tickets. At 9.15am the ticket offices opened and we shuffled forwards to the window where I asked if they had tickets available for El Bosco. “Si señor” she said ……… and I can give you one for 10.00am.” Oh deep joy, something going right at last!
Another small queue to enter The Prado at 9.30am, found the El Bosco gallery and the ticket lady let me straight in to the 9.30 slot. Walking inside was an exciting experience, being able to view something that had never been brought together before, and ………… with only 4 other people.
In the first room in the centre was the triptych of The Garden Of Earthly Delights, I was almost scared to walk up to it close and look at it. Utterly amazing detail, utterly amazing colours, utterly amazing elements/content, and an utterly amazing perspective on heaven-earth-hell! This bloke was a genius and had a view of the world that was as futuristic as it was grounded in those medieval times. Why futuristic? Try looking at the painting below and find things that look like space ships!
“Hieronymus Bosch was an Early Netherlandish painter. His work is known for its fantastic imagery, detailed landscapes, and illustrations of religious concepts and narratives. Within his lifetime his work was collected in the Netherlands, Austria, and Spain, and widely copied, especially his macabre and nightmarish depictions of hell.”
Read about El Bosco here
The Garden of Earthly Delights
“His most famous triptych is the The Garden of Earthly Delights (c. 1495–1505) whose outer panels are intended to bracket the main central panel between the Garden of Eden depicted on the left panel and the Last Judgment depicted on the right panel. It is attributed by Fischer as a transition painting rendered by Bosch from between his middle period and his late period. In the left hand panel God presents Eve to Adam; innovatively God is given a youthful appearance. The figures are set in a landscape populated by exotic animals and unusual semi-organic hut-shaped forms. The central panel is a broad panorama teeming with socially engaged nude figures seemingly engaged in innocent, self-absorbed joy, as well as fantastical animals, oversized fruit and hybrid stone formations.
The right panel presents a hellscape; a world in which humankind has succumbed to the temptations of evil and is reaping eternal damnation. Set at night, the panel features cold colours, tortured figures and frozen waterways. The nakedness of the human figures has lost any eroticism suggested in the central panel, as large explosions in the background throw light through the city gate and spill onto the water in the panel’s midground.”
Now here are some detailed scenes from some of his paintings I have named already, enjoy!
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