Hell in a handcart: The secrets behind Hieronymous Bosch’s The Haywain

what a lot of birds

Hieronymous Bosch - The Haywain

After a recent trip to Lille, where I saw some of the creepiest and strangely wonderful art I’ve ever seen, I was stuck on the Eurostar for an hour and a half with no book to read. What I did have was an enormous 3210 x 2065 scan of the masterpiece painting by Hieronymous Bosch, The Haywain, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Jheronimus (Hieronymous) Bosch Jheronimus (Hieronymous) Bosch (c. 1450 – 9 August 1516)

I thought I could kill ten minutes or so looking over this wonderfully rich piece of medieval symbolic painting – but an hour and a half later, I pulled into London King’s Cross, and I was still looking at Bosch’s painting.

This artwork is so complex it has the richness of text. It brought me right back to poring over the Where’s Wally series as a kid: spotting concealed storylines, visual gags, hidden connections between elements.

It’d be hard to list…

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