A Digital Archive of Hieronymus Bosch’s Complete Works: Zoom In & Explore His Surreal Art

Very lit­tle is known about the Dutch painter Hierony­mus Bosch. And I am going to sug­gest that is a good thing. Would it help to know that this man who cre­at­ed tru­ly inspired, end­less­ly fas­ci­nat­ing views of heav­en and hell, of crea­ture-filled gar­dens of debauch­ery, had a par­tic­u­lar point of view on human­i­ty? Or that he thought there was a “cor­rect” way to under­stand his paint­ings? Per­haps it’s the mys­tery of the man that brings us clos­er to these works, to study them in detail, and to delight in their play­ful hor­ror. And for those who real­ly want detail, the Bosch Project is the place to find it.

The Bosch Project (aka the Bosch Research and Con­ser­va­tion Project) began in 2010 as a way to bring togeth­er the artist’s 45 paint­ings “spread across 2 con­ti­nents, 10 coun­tries, 18 cities, and 20 col­lec­tions” for in-depth research, avail­able to every­one.

The year 2016 marked the 500th anniver­sary of Bosch’s death, with cel­e­bra­tions in the artist’s birth­place of Her­to­gen­bosch and a rev­o­lu­tion­ary exhi­bi­tion in Noord­bra­bants, which stirred con­tro­ver­sy when it dis­put­ed the authen­tic­i­ty of sev­er­al major works in the Pra­do Muse­um in Spain, added two new attri­bu­tions, and restored nine works.

Here is where the Bosch Project web­site shines. The “syn­chro­nized image view­ers” allow us to zoom in to the small­est brush­stroke to exam­ine Bosch’s detailed worlds and char­ac­ters. And in a nod to his use of trip­tychs, the oth­er two sides of the paint­ing zoom in as well. It makes for some inter­est­ing, but not essen­tial, jux­ta­po­si­tions. It’s also easy to move around in the work with just the scroll­wheel of the mouse. Oth­er paint­ings allow the view­er to exam­ine the infrared reflec­togram of the painting’s lay­ers, expos­ing Bosch’s cor­rec­tions and dele­tions. Clos­er exam­i­na­tion of his grand pan­els reveals Bosch’s car­toon­ish brush­work, his car­i­ca­ture, and his immense humor. For sure, the artist want­ed us to med­i­tate on greater mat­ters like our own sal­va­tion, but there’s so much fun in the way he paints ani­mals, or in the bac­cha­na­lia of The Gar­den of Earth­ly Delights, you can be for­giv­en for think­ing he’d want to par­ty as well. Grab that scroll wheel and check out the Garden—there’s plen­ty of room. Enter the Bosch Project web­site here.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Hierony­mus Bosch Fig­urines: Col­lect Sur­re­al Char­ac­ters from Bosch’s Paint­ings & Put Them on Your Book­shelf

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

The Mean­ing of Hierony­mus Bosch’s The Gar­den of Earth­ly Delights Explained

Ted Mills is a free­lance writer on the arts who cur­rent­ly hosts the Notes from the Shed pod­cast and is the pro­duc­er of KCR­W’s Curi­ous Coast. You can also fol­low him on Twit­ter at @tedmills, and/or watch his films here.

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Comments (9)
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  • DP says:

    From a very young age I’ve been fas­ci­nat­ed by his paint­ings. When I was in The Pra­do I made a bee­line to his works there.

  • Tom Bryan says:


  • Virginia Furmanski says:

    Amaz­ing! One of the high­lights of my life was to see the huge Bosch in the Pra­do in Madrid. My buck­et list was to vis­it every major art muse­um in the world but since COVID we do not trav­el. But this is the next best thing! Thank you so much!
    Thank you so much!
    Gin­ny Fur­man­s­ki

  • Jburns says:

    Love me some H. Bosch

  • Gerhard Paul BURGER says:

    The algo­rithm is sug­gest­ing your Dig­i­tal Archive, and I am grate­ful for your great work!

  • Dave Velasquez says:

    His works sub­lime, sur­re­al & unfor­get­table. In many of his works you can feel his gaze and almost hear him laugh.

  • free twitter followers says:

    Thanks for your post.
    Get real twit­ter fol­low­ers fast with strate­gic arti­fi­cial intel­li­gence

  • Simon Carr says:

    Can I put in a plug for a sub stack on the gar­den of Earth­ly Delights? It claims to have dis­cov­ered 101 EXTRA delights by using the site that Ted rec­om­mends. Plus, videos of the unusu­al inter­pre­ta­tion. The address is (pre­fixed by those three Ws) — ged051.substack famil­iar

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