Description of the painting by Jerome Bosch “The Ship of Fools”

Description of the painting by Jerome Bosch “The Ship of Fools”

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Bosch is a darkly Gothic artist of the Northern Renaissance with a head full of amazing and strange thoughts that poured out onto canvases with grotesque and demonic images, coupled with moralizing tendencies.
While the Church was considered the only and unshakable dogma, and the clergy were representatives of the highest nobility, Bosch openly taunted them all together.

This can be clearly seen in his painting "The Ship of Fools." The ship is a traditional symbol of the Church in ancient centuries, filled with different people. In the center, among the people, sits a monk and a nun playing the lute. Instead of the mast of the ship, a living tree grows - May, instead of the helm - a broken branch. People on the ship and the clergy drink, commit atrocities and bawl songs. Someone is sick of excessively drunk wine, someone overeats to hiccups, and someone is so dumb that he rows with a scoop like an oar, trying to accelerate the movement of the ship. The helmsman of this ship is a buffoon in an absurd suit and cap with bells. An owl stares calmly at this whole coven from tree branches.

The picture is literally oversaturated with double-digit characters. The lute is an allegory of the female genital organ, the Maypole and the owl are symbols of evil, heresy and the devil in the Middle Ages. The picture makes it clear to everyone who looks at it that this ship has no future, since it is not controlled by anyone, people are restless and sooner or later they will turn the ship over, it will slowly sink to the bottom. An unmasked image of the Church (ship), which is mired in sin and moral debauchery, but still rules people, absolutely not caring for the salvation of their souls. All the figures in the picture cause antipathy, they are flat and ugly, like inept masks, and the instability and ephemerality of the ship emphasizes the meaninglessness of everything that happens.

The painting “The Ship of Fools” was the upper part of the triptych, which, unfortunately, has not survived to the present day, depriving it of pleasure to contemplate the next creation of the bold and progressive, gloomy genius of irony and sarcasm, Jerome Bosch.

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