The first of several posts featuring the master of the macabre, Hieronymus Bosch, whose meticulous paintings influenced the behaviour, reinforced the faith and fed the fear of the people of his time. Born Jheronimus van Aken in the Netherlands in the fifteenth/early sixteenth century, he signed his paintings using a name derived from his place of birth. Details of his life are few and patchy as he left no letters or diaries and there are few records of his training so accounts of the man himself are interpretations of the personality responsible for his astonishing creations and from what we know of the environment in which he lived and worked. Bosch produced several triptychs, most famously ‘The Garden of Earthly Delights’ which Adam and Eve on the left panel surrounded by beautiful animals, fruits and vibrant greens and blues. This section represents life and vibrancy, nude figures, live familiar animals and a sense of space, calm and tranquil symmetry. Earthly delights are most vibrantly depicted in the middle panel where unblemished naked figures frolic and mingle in an exodus of rich colours, vibrant fruits and dancing figures. This section is opulent and sumptuous, contrasting in content but describing the same apparent madness and exuberant energy as in the hell panel on the right. His visions of purgatory are among the most fantastical, grotesque and theatrical ever painted. Almost cartoon-like to modern eyes, Bosch painted mania, debauchery, torture and savagery in unparalleled and vivid directness. It is fascinating that violence and pleasure have so many strange similarities yet one is rewarding and one is perversion- great artists tread a fine line between the two. It was said that Bosch’s work was inspired by heretical influences as well as hermetic practices. Deviating slightly from the conventions and smooth painting techniques of his contemporaries, he drew with his brush and some of his hell painting is slightly sketchier than his other work, reflecting the frenzied, chaotic spirit of his subject. Writhing bodies, contorted in agony, deformed, recoiling and revelling in deviant aberration chaotically transform into slumped, relaxed, carefree figures, naked and comfortable, safe and free rather than exposed and tortured. Bosch’s work is arguably one of the greatest revelations in narrative work, history and biblical painting and describes a deep and primal sense of what we deeply crave and desire along side what most repulses, horrifies and terrifies us. Articulating the unspeakable so beautifully and describing our base impulses so fluently and complexly makes Bosch truly unique and his work spectacularly compelling.