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The Mystery of Hieronymus Bosch

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Ingrid D. Rowland reviews Bosch: The Centenary Exhibition at the Prado Museum, Madrid (through September 11) and Jheronimus Bosch: Visions of Genius at the Het Noordbrabants Museum (closed).

Rowland writes: “[Bosch’s] early admirers celebrated the boundless ingenuity of his work, but they also recognized the sureness of his hand and his unerringly observant eye. In the precision of his draftsmanship, his sensitivity to landscape, his fascination with animals, he shows some surprising affinities with his contemporary from Florence, Leonardo da Vinci—who else but Leonardo would have noticed, and recorded, as Bosch does, the way that evening light can turn the waters of a distant river into a radiant mirror? Both artists were fascinated by grotesque human faces, but Bosch also detailed grotesque human behavior with a bawdy abandon all his own. No matter how closely we look at his minutely particular works, there is always something more to see.”

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