The Adoration of the Magi
Hieronymus Bosch, Netherlandish (active Hertogenbosch), c. 1450 - 1516
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This painting is generally accepted as an early work by Bosch, and is still strongly linked to the style of the Netherlandish painters Dieric Bouts (c. 1415–1475) and Geertgen tot Sint Jans (active 1475–95).
Born into a family of artists, Bosch began working around 1474 in the Dutch city of 's Hertogenbosch. Though far from the artistic and commercial centers of Bruges and Brussels, 's Hertogenbosch nevertheless had famous schools that attracted distinguished students such as Erasmus of Rotterdam. The city's Confraternity of Our Lady at Saint John's Cathedral counted Bosch and many other influential and noble figures among its members.
Bosch undertook to paint religious subjects on commission not only for the church, but also for such great patrons as Philip IV, Duke of Burgundy and Hendrick II, Count of Nassau. Bosch's fantastic and sophisticated imagery conveyed a somewhat pessimistic, moralizing message and a personal, imaginative spirituality. These characteristics were consistent with the Devotio Moderna movement—then flourishing in the Low Countries—which focused on an individual's inner life, stressed the importance of meditation, and encouraged a personal relationship with God.