In the Studio With Bosch

Bosch: The 5th Centenary Exhibition. Thames & Hudson. May 2017. 400p. ed. by Pilar Silva Maroto. illus. notes. index. ISBN 9780500970799. pap. $45. FINE ARTS
BoschCollectors of comprehensive scholarship on Dutch painter ­Hieronomyous Bosch (1450–1516) have several titles to choose from this year, in celebration of the quincentenary of the artist’s death. Two extraordinary exhibitions were mounted in 2016: the first in Bosch’s lifelong home of Hertogenbosch in the Netherlands; the second at Madrid’s Museo del Prado, which holds the largest collection of works by the artist. This exhibition brought together works from 30 additional museums, for which this volume serves as catalog raisonné. Six essays by renowned Bosch scholars (curators Maroto, Eric De Bruyn, Paul Vandenbroeck, Larry Silver, Reindert Falkenburg, and Fernando Checa) present updated research on Bosch’s biography, sources for his unusual images, values, and ideology. Many mysteries surround the medieval artist’s work owing to a small corpus, much of it unsigned, and murky biographical details. Included with the 300 illustrations, in glorious color, are images based on radiography and infrared reflectography, which allow us to see how Bosch reworked his designs as he painted. The ability to move deeply into his technique has not abated controversies over attribution. Fortunately, none of this diminishes the sheer wonder of these fantastical paintings. VERDICT A thoroughly researched and important acquisition for scholars of medieval art.—Nancy B. Turner, Temple Univ. Lib., Philadelphia

Koerner, Joseph Leo. Bosch and Bruegel: From Enemy Painting to Everyday Life. Princeton Univ. Nov. 2016. 448p. illus. notes. index. ISBN 9780691172286. $65. FINE ARTS
bosch and bruegelKoerner (history of art & architecture, Harvard Univ.) presents the summation of his A.W. Mellon Lecture from the National Gallery of Art on Bosch & Bruegel. Looking closely at how these two artists drew inspiration from the darker tones of life, namely in the hellish landscapes of the underworld, the author shows how they managed to bring a more accurate portrayal of peasant life to their art. Readers are compelled to view Bosch, a painter often more known for his depictions of surreal landscapes of hell, as one on par with Pieter Bruegel (1525–90), whose work depicted everyday life. Drawing on decades of research, experience, and an enormous library of illustrations, Koerner takes readers through a carefully guided tour of life in the 16th century to prove his point. While this title is well researched, readers may often feel like they are the odd duck in a room full of erudites discussing deep matters on one particular grain of sand out of the ocean. VERDICT Recommended for large universities with art programs.—Danielle Shuping, White River Junction, VT

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