Doc Martens Boots Adorned with Hieronymus Bosch’s “Garden of Earthly Delights”

As in cui­sine, where peas­ant food can become trendy and expen­sive overnight, so it is in fash­ion: how else to explain the way a hum­ble work­ing-class boot went from the fac­to­ry floor to styl­is­tic state­ment.

The orig­i­nal 1960’s Dr. Martens boot, the one with the cush­ioned sole, fan­cy tread, and yel­low stitch­ing, was designed to be afford­able. That’s why the punks loved it, that’s why the ska/Two Tone guys and gals loved it, and that’s why rich rock­ers like Pete Town­shend showed his sol­i­dar­i­ty by wear­ing them along with his boil­er suit.

But that was then, and this is…the Tate Gallery of London’s spe­cial­ly com­mis­sioned series of arty Docs. The “1460” boot above shows details from Hierony­mus Bosch’s “Gar­den of Earth­ly Delights” (the hell­ish third pan­el), which you have to admit is pret­ty cool. For the lover not the fight­er among us, you can also go for the more debauched sec­ond pan­el from “Gar­den” print­ed on a “1461” style shoe.

If Bosch isn’t your style, the Tate Gallery also com­mis­sioned ones fea­tur­ing Gian­ni­co­la Di Pao­loWilliam Hog­a­rth, and Bia­gio Di Anto­nio. Trou­ble is, all of these have already sold out, though you can still get ver­sions sport­ing art by William Blake and JMW Turn­er. I guess you might want to book­mark Dr. Martens Artist Series’ page. We’re here to expand your cul­tur­al knowl­edge on Open Cul­ture, not to pro­vide dai­ly deals!

So, yes, these lim­it­ed edi­tion boots are just slight­ly more than the orig­i­nal “smooth” style and not exact­ly cheap. But, on the oth­er hand, this new phase of the com­pa­ny is a cel­e­bra­tion of skirt­ing com­plete obso­les­cence. While mar­keters love to say these brands “nev­er go out of style,” they in fact did. Accord­ing to their own web­site, Dr. Martens had such declin­ing sales at the turn of the mil­len­ni­um that all but one fac­to­ry closed. It was by com­mis­sion­ing artists to rebrand the boot in sim­i­lar ways as the Tate Gallery that the com­pa­ny was able to turn things around and, best of all, keep man­u­fac­tur­ing the boots in Britain.

Whether you should wear your high cul­ture so low to the ground is for you to fig­ure out once you get your hands on a pair. Again, there are still ver­sions by William Blake and JMW Turn­er in steady sup­ply.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Take a Vir­tu­al Tour of Hierony­mus Bosch’s Bewil­der­ing Mas­ter­piece The Gar­den of Earth­ly Delights

Hierony­mus Bosch Fig­urines: Col­lect Sur­re­al Char­ac­ters from Bosch’s Paint­ings & Put Them on Your Book­shelf
Hierony­mus Bosch’s Medieval Paint­ing, “The Gar­den of Earth­ly Delights,” Comes to Life in a Gigan­tic, Mod­ern Ani­ma­tion

Ted Mills is a free­lance writer on the arts who cur­rent­ly hosts the artist inter­view-based FunkZone Pod­cast and is the pro­duc­er of KCR­W’s Curi­ous Coast. You can also fol­low him on Twit­ter at @tedmills, read his oth­er arts writ­ing at and/or watch his films here.

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  • Tyson says:

    I do believe these are the ugli­est shoes I have ever seen.

  • David Grant says:

    You state these are the ugli­est shoes you’ve ever seen !!! OK that’s your opinion,but you know what they say !!! Opin­ions are like ass­holes, every­body has one…I like them very much, and shows a sense of confidence..I also have a dress sense and code sim­i­lar to Cary Grant.

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