Hieronymous Bosch  (1450-1516)  –   images

Much of Bosch’s work was commissioned.  I don’t know the context of the images displayed here.  Some it may come from local stories and legends.  The last two images show his apocalyptic vision.

Blind leading the blind
The Triumph of the Haywagon (detail) Notice the immense rat to the right – Bosch was born in the midst of the Black Death (1446-1552)
The Triumph of the Haywagon (detail) What could the symbolism of that heart poster be? (top left)
The Triumph of the Haywagon (detail) Here one sees Bosch as the father of modern surrealism – people who are half animal.
Hell (detail) Here he becomes an artist of great fear and horror. Note the peaceful bird in the foreground. Few artists have achieved the feel of a nightmare like this. Interesting to see how nakedness can symbolise vulnerability for him.

©  Will


Bridgewater, Somerset West

November, 2022 (27)


H. de la Croix, R. Tansey (editors):  Gardener’s Art Through the Ages (Harcourt, Brace & Ward, Inc., New York. 1970)

Ludwig von Baldass:  Hieronymous Bosch (Verlag Anton Scholl & Co., Wien.  1943.)    



Hieronymous Bosch (1450-1516)  – images

I have had the privilege of seeing Hieronymous Bosch’s Garden of Earthly Delights  (15th-16th-century).   The difficulty with an original is that you can’t come up close enough to see the detail, which you need to do n Bosch’s case, but what you do see is the colour.   I saw it in the Prado in Madrid and thereby hung a tale of the plunder of warfare, the time when Hapsburg Spain invaded Flanders and the Netherlands.  But what inspires me with irony is that it is art that unites Europe.  Every war bears witness to that.

The interpretation of his work differs from critic to critic, but his genius is unquestioned.  Was he a satirist?  Was he mocking religion?  Is what he did pornographic?  Is he a heretic or a conservative fanatic?  Do his images carry obsessive guilt?  His art, it is said, comes from the pessimism of his time, strongly influenced the fear of the fate of humankind.  Here are a few images, not even his controversial ones.  If we can see the genius of the work, our lack of understanding is, perhaps, less important.   


Adam banished from Eden

St Christoper and a child
Stations of the Cross. He sometimes used the visages of contemporary people he didn’t like.
Stattions of the Cross. Top righthand corner the sympathetic criminal. Bottom righthand, the unsylpathetic criminal. Top lefthand corner, (possibly (the hands of) Simon of Cyrene. Bottom lefthand corner, St Veronica and the image of Christ.

©  Will


Bridgewater, Somerset West

November, 2022 (20)


H. de la Croix, R. Tansey (editors):  Gardener’s Art Through the Ages (Harcourt, Brace & Ward, Inc., New York. 1970)

Ludwig von Baldass:  Hieronymous Bosch (Verlag Anton Scholl & Co., Wien.  1943)   (If only people had had more time for publishing art instead of making war.) 


Edward Gordon Craig (1872-1966)

Second in a series of two

The work of Gordon Craig was revolutionary.  Theatre sets were ‘realistic’ at the time, often crowded with detail.  Craig was clearly influenced by the new spirit of modernism and one thinks of Paul Klee’s words ‘Artists have to rid themselves of European bad taste’.  Traditional stage design for Craig probably was subject to this bad taste. 

Stage design for a play on the burning of Troy, 1908

He realized the importance of lighting, much as Adolphe Appia in Switzerland was doing.  Lights had always been footlights and now he removed them to the roof creating a completely different vision.  His costume designs were sometimes influenced by the earliest European costume designs, though some of them broke the rules of contemporary design.  His stage designs took him back, it seems, to the majesty of the Greek temple.  These designs were often stark and severe.

Stage design for ‘The Temple’, 1911

What is fortunate about the work of Gordon Craig is that early in his career he recorded what he was doing by means of wood blocks.  The prints from these wood blocks were easy to circulate and so as his fame and influence grew the records of his work were easy to circulate. 

Costume design for W.B. Yeats’ ‘Mask of the Fool’, 1911

His influence is great.  What he did has never dated.  On the contrary, more designers through the 20th-century have not only imitated him, but even used original designs.

Stage model for a scene in ‘Hamlet’, 1912

© Will


Bridgewater, Somerset West

November, 2022 (13.11) 


Janet Leeper:  Edward Gordon Craig  (Penguin Books, London. 1948)

Costume design for Hanlet and, as he says, his daemon, 1909

Edward Gordon Craig  (1872-1966)

First in a series of two

For once history wasn’t cruel to a genius.   And Gordon Craig’s life story, starting with his illegitimate birth in 1872 to the well-known actress Ellen Terry, is one of success and recognition.  Perhaps there would be the argument that he didn’t receive immediate recognition in England where he was born, but eventually the English realized what they had in him.  He even survived the German occupation of France where he was incarcerated in 1940, but released in 1941.

Sorcereress in ‘Dido and ‘Aneas’, woodcut 1900

   Having grown up in the theatre, he became a remarkable actor in the early-1890s.  His performance of Hamlet at this time is noted by historians.  This part of his life had a great influence on his choice to be a stage designer  –  you can design when you look at your task from an actor’s point of view. 

Costume design for ‘Asis and Galatea’ in 1901


It was from 1904, when he was discovered by the well-known stage director Kessler in Berlin, that Craig’s remarkable talents came to the fore.  His concepts had matured in a short period of time and he published his book The Art of the Theatre in 1905.  Within the next few years Craig became a household name in German theatre.  As his fame spread, he also became involved in the theatre in Florence and later his concepts were used extensively in France. 

Stage design for ‘Elektra’, 1905

#The theatre leaders in Russia quickly recognized Craig as a great modernist and Stanislavski, the influential writer on acting and directing, invited him to do a design for the 1911 production of Hamlet in Moscow. 

Stage design for ‘The Vikings’ by Ibsen, 1908

He was known to be a perfectionist and not easy to work with.  He believed in a unity of vision which was not easily achieved with traditional methods of stage decorators and directors. 

Stage design for as stage scene, 1908

 In his personal life, he was no less busy.  He fathered quite a few children from various women.  One of them was the famed American dancer Isadora Duncan.  He founded theatre magazines, one of which The Mask, has become a primary source for many theatre practitioners.  He was active in expressing his theatre principles in the articles.   In 1931 he published a biography of his mother and his own was to follow in 1956. 

Stage design for ‘King Lear’, 1908


He moved to the South of France in 1948 and to Vence in 1952 where he died at the age of 94 in 1966. 

©  Will


Bridgewater, Somerset West

November, 2022 (6.11)


Janet Leeper:  Edward Gordon Craig (Penguin Books, London. 1948)

Image of Craig: Wikipedia

Edward Gordon Craig


Dorothy Parker (1893-1967), poet, critic, author, left her mark on the history of quipsters. I quote a number.

“The first thing I do in the morning is brush my teeth and sharpen my tongue.”

On one occasion, a celebrity opened a door for her, commenting, “Age before beauty.” Dorothy entered with the response, “Pearls before swine.”

“Beauty is only skin deep, but ugly goes clean to the bone.”

“Don’t look at me in that tone of voice.”

“Brevity is the soul of lingerie.”

“I wonder why they hate you as soon as they are sure of you.”

Two mock epitaphs: “This is on me.” “Pardon my dust.”

Talking about a promiscuous acquaintance, someone said, “You know, she speaks 18 languages.” Dorothy responded, “Yes, but she can’t say no in any of them.”

At a party, she said, “One more drink and I’ll be under the host.”

Apocryphal: “Let’s slip out of these wet clothes and into a dry martini.”

Apocryphal: “Everything worthwhile doing is either immoral, illegal, or fattening.”

Quoted from Robert Hendrickson: The Literary Life & Other Curiosities (Penguin, London. 1981)

Dorothy Parker quotations.

Image : Wikipedia.

Reflections, shadows

I offer some of my photographics, images that struck me at the time and that I have put through a process.

Reflections in a shop windows

Reflections on buildings
Reflection on water
Reflection of a puppet in glass cladding
Reflection abstract, well cropped

(c) Will


Bridgewater, Somerset West

October, 2022 (23)

My photographics, published by RotsWolk-Publishers, Cape Town.

Reflections on a building

The Hubble images

Second in a series of two

Here are several more of the Hubble images, relayed from a depth of space. It was said at the time (1990s) that the images were coloured. I have no problem with that. For me they are objects of meditation.

(c) Will


Bridgewater, Somerset West

October, 2022 (16)

Sources of images lost

The Hubble images

The first in a series of two

Time magazine, in its Century’s Greatest Minds (29 March, 1999), writes of astronomer Edwin Hubble (1889-1953), ‘He saw a vast universe beyond the Milky Way, then found the first hints that it began with a Big Bang.’  Albert Einstein and Stephen Hawkin were amongst those recognizing the enormous contribution Hubble made to our understanding of the universe.  It is fitting then, that the most sophisticated deep-space camera system yet made should honour his name. Time writes, ‘Hubble would have been consoled by the fact that his name adorns the Hubble Space Telescope, which probes the cosmos to depths he could not have imagined but would have appreciated.’

For me, the images that have reached us since the 1990s are more than colourful abstracts.  I find them deeply inspiring for a number of reasons.  And, not, as Carl Sagan said in his programme ‘Cosmos’, that we realise ‘how small we are’.  That we can appreciate the vastness (as far as our minds can manage) reveals our own participation in the infinity of what people like Hubble have discovered and are discovering. We are part of the evolution of the universe.

©  Will


Bridgewater, Somerset West

October, 2022 (9)


Time, The Century’s Greatest Minds (29 March 1999)

Images: sources lost

Oscar Wilde – cynic supreme

Oscar Wilde (1854 – 1900) was an Irish poet and playwright who also wrote some of the most moving short stories in the language. He was too, a cynic supreme. Someone said that a cynic is an inverted romantic. (I have never understood why the Greeks created the word ‘cynic’ from the word for dog.) Here are a few of the Wildean ripostes.

“I can resist everything but temptation”.

“Experience is the name everyone gives to his mistakes.”

“Nothing succeeds like excess.”

“One should always play fair when one has the winning cards.”

“A cynic is a man who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.”

“Life is far too important a thing ever to talk seriously about.”

On going through customs in New York City: “I have nothing to declare except my genius.”

On being shown Niagara Falls: “It would be more impressive if it flowed the other way.”

“The difference between journalism and literature is that journalism is unreadable and literature is not read.”

Last words, as he called for champagne: “I am dying as I have lived, beyond my means.”

Quotations from Robert Hendrickson: The Literary Life & Other Curiosities (Penguin, London, 1981)

Famous literary last words

It is interesting that relatively few dying statements show the presence of horror, or even great sorrow.  One writer said, “After reading thousands of death-bed utterances, one is struck and comforted by how comparatively pleasant dying is reported to be.  Especially when compared with other ordeals.  Such as living, for example.”

Charles Darwin:  “I am not the least afraid to die.”

Thomas Carlyle:  “So this is death  –  well  –  ”

Socrates:  “Crito, I owe a cock to Asclepius;  will you remember to pay the debt?”

Jean Jacques Rousseau:  “I go to see the sun for the last time.”

George Wilhelm Hegel:  “Only one man ever understood me … and he didn’t understand me.”

Voltaire:  “Let me die in peace.”  There is also the story which might be apocryphal:  when the priest begged Voltaire to renounce the devil, Voltaire said: “This is not the time to be making enemies.”

William Saroyan:  “Everybody has to die, but I have always believed an exception would be made in my case.  Now what?”

Nero:  “What an artist dies in me!”

Henry James:  “So this is at last, the distinguished thing.”

Heinrich Heine:  His will read:  “I leave my entire estate to my wife on condition that she remarry;  then there will be at least one man to regret my death.”

Sir Walter Scott:  “God bless you all, I feel myself again.”

©  Will


Bridgewater, Somerset West

September, 2022  (25.9)


Robert Hendrickson:  The Literary Life & other curiosities (Penguin Books, London. 1981.)

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