Exploring Bosch’s “Juggler” further

I’m certainly neither an art historian in general nor an expert on Bosch‘s painting “The Juggler”; yet, the fabulous Bosch Project I mentioned here recently and which you can find online here, has triggered some fun detective work on my side of the screen.


When we look at the famous painting, we could argue that the cutpurse on the left is simply taking random advantage of the juggler’s momentary action on the right. However, it could also be the case that the two main characters are partners in crime: The juggler provides the misdirection while the thief cuts up jackpots.

Some evidence for the latter version:

  1. These two eerie fellows stand juxtaposed to each other, thus framing the painting on the left and on the right, which may indicate a relation.
  2. They seem to be of very similar height (excluding the juggler’s top hat).
  3. By playing around with enlarged snippets of the painting, twisting and mirroring them, I came to realize that both men’s noses and faces in profile are very similar to each other, which could indicate that they are, in fact, brothers, both in life and in crime!

Have a look below: The size, crooked shape and nostrils of both noses are very similar. Also, both noses and half faces can be interchanged without much ado or any image manipulation:

Bosch Noses and Faces

More discoveries to come!


Layers of Layers of Bosch

Since listening to Dr. Steffen Taut‘s fascinating talk on recent research findings about Jheronimus Bosch‘s (?) famous painting, The Juggler, at the latest EMHC, I have spent quite a bit of time on the wonderful website of the Bosch Project, and I’d urge you to check it out, too!

It takes a moment to load the huge amount of data, but then they will guide you inch by inch into and through the surreal world of Bosch. These data do not only give you the Bosch paintings in amazing detail and scan quality; in the interactive section, they also feature the underdrawings made visible through infrared and X-rays, so you can compare drafts and finalizations, various styles, etc.


Here are some examples what the screen image looks like when you play around with the various visible layers of the painting:









Now have a look at some of the fine details. I actually doubt that you could see and identify them so well when standing before the original painting in the museum of Saint-Germain-en-Laye!

By the way, I have always marveled at the modern red hat of the woman spectator on the left. Doesn’t it look like a 20th century creation?!


Here’s the detail of the cut-purse in action. Note how well you can see the shining tip of the blade.


More details, discoveries and thoughts on this painting to come!


Boschs Gaukler auf einer Briefmarke


Erst kürzlich stieß ich in einem älteren Fachbeitrag auf diese magische Marke, die 2001 im afrikanischen Staat Mosambik herausgegeben wurde. Sie zeigt natürlich das berühmte, um 1500 entstandene Gemälde “Der Gaukler” von Hieronymus Bosch – allerdings mit zwei Eigenheiten: Zum einen erscheint das Bild hier gespiegelt, d.h. anders als im Original steht der Vorführer links und das Publikum rechts. Zum anderen ist das Bild auf der Seite des Publikums aus unerfindlichen Gründen beschnitten. So wird der Betrachter der Marke um den Anblick eines Taschendiebes gebracht (womöglich ein Komplize des Taschenspielers?), der eine staunende Zuschauerin gerade um ihren Geldbeutel erleichtert…

Die Marke ist Teil eines Blocks mit sechs Bosch-Motiven.

Mehr Lektüre zu magischen Briefmarken gibt es hier, hier und hier.