Larry Solomon, copyright ©
is defined in a Merriam Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, tenth edition,
1995, as "the principles, ideals, or practice of producing fantastic or
incongruous imagery or effects in art, literature, film, or theater by means
of unnatural juxtapositions and combinations." Additionally, surrealistic
is defined as "having a strange dreamlike atmosphere or quality."
Many of Bosch's paintings
qualify under these definitions as surrealistic, with their fantastic images
and incongruous juxtapositions. Figures 17 and 18 are good examples of this,
but Bosch's visionary paintings are full of such images. Thus, he anticipated
a major art movement of the twentieth century by over five hundred years. In
fact, many of his fantastic images surpass those of modern surrealists in their
fantastic properties and unusual juxtapositions. André Breton, in his
first manifesto on Surrealism (1924), referred to Bosch as the forerunner of
surrealism, an "integral visionary", anticipating "the painters
of the unconscious".
Hell panel of Earthly Delights triptych
can hardly imagine a more surreal image than this one from the Garden of
Earthly Delights Hell scene. This "Tree-man" has the face of
Bosch himself looking back on the scenes of Hell. His body is a a broken eggshell,
reflecting his own (moral) fall.The rotten tree with thorn-like branches piercing
his body represent his spiritual death. On his head is a round table with devils
dancing sinners around the "lascivious" bagpipe. Thus, Bosch is confessing
his own indulgence in sinful activities, such as drunkeness, gambling, and lust.
The body of Tree-man contains a gambling scene around a table, while a witch
pours more wine from a keg to replenish the gamblers. The soul climbing a ladder
is so degenerate, emerging from a black pool (filth), that he is aspiring to
reach the level of the gambler-drunkards. The boat-shoes are the only thing
that prevents this monster from completely collapsing.