Hieronymus Bosch Essay

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For my final project I chose to do a study on the artist Hieronymus Bosch, or more specifically I decided to focus on his use of owls in his various paintings. Bosch was a very interesting lad and his paintings lean toward the bizarre end of a normalcy spectrum. Individuals likeminded to Bosch fascinate me. My mind does not function or view things the same way and I find it very intriguing. I cannot even imagine what types of discussions (much less guess the probable subjects) Bosch would have had with his fellow artists in his time.
A secondary reason I chose to explore the meanings behind the use of owls is because I have a personal fascination with owls. I already knew that owls are well-known for their association wisdom, as well as the association with specific “knowledge and erudition that can see through obscurity (and as the bird of Athena/Minerva, the goddess of wisdom), the owl appears frequently in the emblems of scholarly publishing houses and book stores” (Biedermann, 250.) However, Bosch chose to give his owls different, unconventional symbolic …show more content…

The owl is depicted as Christ, “giving the light of truth” evidenced by the writing in Lucas 1:79 and obviously portraying the owl in a positive light. The other depiction is the owl as a sinner “being dark and having fallen away from God” evidenced by the passage in Leviticus 11:6 which identifies owls as unclean creatures, therefore in a negative light. The concept of owls symbolizing the turning from spiritual light is supported additionally through a passage from Dictionary of Symbolism: Cultural Icons and the Meanings Behind Them in which it is explained that this new symbolic meaning is derived from many factors including “nocturnal habits, solitude, silent flight, and plaintive cry” (Biedermann,

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