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The hearing forest and the sighted field

Painting, XVI century, 20.2×12.7 cm

Description of the artwork «The hearing forest and the sighted field»

Figure Bosch "Hearing the wood and sighted the field" – the pearl of the Berlin Print Cabinet (Kupferstichkabinett), the largest graphic collections in Germany. This small (20.2 x 12.7 cm) the image is concentrated many of the most important symbols of the figurative system of Bosch: forest, dry hollow tree with a hollow lurking in it an owl, birds, ears.

Technical issues


"The hearing forest and the sighted field" is made with a quill pen. As the coloring agent used ink and bistre – brown water-soluble pigment, which is obtained from boiled soot charred beech or other resinous wood. It is believed that up to Bosch quill pen in the Netherlands has not used virtually none. Bosch has become in this area a pioneer, started a new tradition and have expanded the technical Arsenal of artists: later with a quill pen will work the other great Dutch masters – Bruegel, Rembrandt. The very formation of the figure, intuitive sketch as an independent genre in European art has also been associated with the name of Hieronymus Bosch.

Of a Bosch painting made, apparently, not to the public, but for themselves (why they are sometimes called "intimate"), reveal the artist's virtuoso and, ironically, much more sophisticated painter than some of his paintings.

Semantic features


"Hearing the wood and sighted the field" is among the drawings, with sufficient certainty atributiruemye Bosch, a special place. This, according to the researcher Lion Dyakova, nothing like "the allegorical proclamation of a creative program of Bosch". A scientist writes: "The forest – an allusion to his name, and the inscription at the top reads: "Unhappy he who repeats the discoveries of others, and he can't come up with anything new". And at the same time the drawing is an illustration of an old Dutch saying: "The fields have eyes and the woods ears, and I hear if I'm to be silent and listen". Does not hint at whether the artist in meditation, which is often used?"

Forest. During the late middle Ages symbolized everything mysterious, unknown, and mysterious. Untold wealth hidden in its dark thickets, attract inquisitive adventurers, and at the same time threaten unknown dangers. In this sense, the forest becomes a metaphor for life's journey. Interestingly, den Bosch – the name of the city where Bosch was born and spent my entire life, translates as "the Duke's forest". Alias of one of the most enigmatic artists, is derived from the name of the city means "Forest".

Hollow tree. This is the image for Bosch – one of the key. For example, the right leaf of the "Garden of earthly delights" hollow tree the torso is a so-called "melancholy beast" (possible self-portrait of Hieronymus Bosch); in Madrid "The temptation of St. Anthony" the righteous man is depicted sitting in a rotten tree trunk, and in the corresponding triptych from Lisbon from decaying wood core appears Nude devil tempting Saint Anthony. Hollow tree – a symbol of unbelief, sin, and death; an emblem of existence, devoid of semantic core, empty and meaningless.

Owl – frequent character boskovsky works (see: "Ship of fools", "The garden of earthly delights" etc.). Owl ambivalent. In ancient tradition it symbolized wisdom, but in the medieval semiotics of the night bird and the predator, a symbol of evil and sin.

Birds most likely, are the epitome of vices. For example, the hoopoe, in the time of Bosch's thought "sinful than the devil himself" because it has gorgeous plumage, but eats feces. Birds – from sparrows to ravens – often associated with the instrument of a diabolical force. The devil "the Prince of the power of the air" (Eph.2:2), and this means that everything living in the air connected with the demon world or is their conviction. Hence the idea of the involvement of birds to demonic forces, backed by the Apocalypse (where the angel gathers the birds "to the great supper of God to eat the flesh of kings, the flesh of mighty men, corpses of horses and those seated on them, the bodies of all people, free and slave, small and great" – Rev. 19:17-18)," – said Alexander Makhov in the dictionary "Categories and images of medieval Christian demonology".

Autonomous ears not belonging to a particular body, also appear in "the Garden of earthly delights", where a number of them mentioned a knife. They are probably connected with the statement of Christ, "he who Has ears to hear, let him hear." Cut off the ears of Bosch, thus, the punishment for organs meant for hearing and perception of the truth, continued to remain deaf and insensitive to the divine word. The ear as the receptacle of truth, could also be identified with the human soul – perhaps that is why the auricle of figure Bosch resemble human embryos.

Eyes interpret as the all-seeing eye, also found in the picture "The 7 deadly sins and 4 last things" where the idea of total divine omniscience backed by the Latin inscription Cave Cave Deus videt – "Beware, beware God sees you!".

Fawn figure Bosch the root of the tree is a symbol of righteousness. In the Book of Psalms stag, rushed to the water flows, meant the righteous, persistently seeking God, and later the deer were unambiguously associated with Jesus Christ.

In addition to "the Hearing forest and the seeing field" (by the way, the drawings are on the reverse side sheet), the Berlin Print Cabinet is the owner of three drawings of Hieronymus Bosch: "Two monsters", "Turtle skull on the carapace and winged demon"and "Sketches of monsters".

Author: Anna Yesterday
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About the artwork

Art form: Painting

Subject and objects: Landscape

Style of art: Northern Renaissance

Technique: Feather, Bistre

Materials: Paper

Date of creation: XVI century

Size: 20.2×12.7 cm

Artwork in selections: 19 selections

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