Real birds in Hieronymus Bosch’s fantastic paintings


Little owl, Bosch, Garden of earthly delights

This picture shows a little owl, by famous painter Hieronymus Bosch. It is in his painting The Garden of Earthly Delights.

Little owl, Hieronymus Bosch

This photo shows a little owl as well. In Bosch’s painting The Wayfarer.

Hieronymus Bosch, The Wayfarer

That little owl, like many other animals in Bosch’s work, is a little detail in a painting full of little details.

We saw these owls on 8 July 2016, when we were in the natural history museum in Tilburg, the Netherlands.

The Tilburg exhibition on animals in Bosch’s works did not show the original works of art. These had been earlier this year in the exhibition in Den Bosch; and are now in the exhibition in the Prado museum in Madrid.

The Tilburg exhibition had reproductions of Bosch’s paintings. And also many stuffed animals of species shown by Bosch. I think there was a mistake in these stuffed animals: they included a North American black bear. A species not known to Bosch as far as I know. The bears in Bosch’s work are European brown bears; not present among the stuffed animals in the exhibition.

Why did Bosch depict so many animals? We cannot be sure. As far as we know, Bosch never wrote about his work. Many animals in Bosch’ age were used as symbols, eg of sinful or good human qualities: eg, peacocks for vanity. The catalogue of the exhibition says that many of these late medieval-early Renaissance symbolic meanings have become lost and are unclear now.

Did Bosch agree 100% with what his contemporaries thought about symbolic meanings of animals? Maybe he did not agree 100%. His works show signs of non-conformism. In west European medieval social thought, the clergy were the first estate. The nobility was the second estate. Town-dwelling bourgeois, like Bosch in Den Bosch town, were the third estate.

Tradition said that bourgeois had to mind that they did not have as many rights as clergymen, kings, counts or barons (though more than peasant serfs). However, in his The Haywain, Bosch depicted the emperor of the Holy Roman Empire and the pope as sinners who might end up in hell. He depicted a nun as a money-grabbing half pig, half human in The Garden of Earthly Delights. He depicted an armoured knight as a partly human, partly other mammal, partly bird being in hell in the same painting.

Art historian Marrigje Rikken recently wrote about images of animals between 1550 and 1630 becoming an art genre in themselves. In the dominant medieval view on art, artists worked mainly for the Roman Catholic church. They made art with religious subjects. Depicting animals could be a part of that, if it fitted in religious frameworks like the Garden of Eden or Noah’s Ark. In the sixteenth and seventeenth countries, certainly in the Low Countries, the link between artists, the Catholic church and the nobility became looser. According to Ms Rikken, there was a gradual change from earlier emblematic, symbolic depictions of animals in a religious framework to more scientific depictions; in which religion faded more and more into the background.

According to Rikken, the number of animals featured in works of art gradually increased. More and more, animals became subjects in themselves, not minor parts of religious depictions.

Was Hieronymus Bosch an early pioneer of this evolution, at least in some respects? Maybe; we don’t know for sure. He did depict many hundreds of animals. The emblematic-religious framework was still there. We may never know whether Bosch was a true believer in it. Or whether it was convenient for him as a pretext for painting or drawing animals which he loved for its own sake.

There are four types of animals in Hieronymus Bosch’s paintings. Autochthonous west European animals which Bosch knew well. Exotic animals new for west Europeans; like giraffes. And two kinds of fantasy animals. Animals which traditionally were supposed to exist, like unicorns and griffons. And animals which were products of Bosch’s own imagination; often half one animal species, half another species.

In the rest of this blog post we will confine ourselves to real animals; especially non-exotic birds; in The Garden of Earthly Delights.

Spoonbills, Hieronymus Bosch

Like these real spoonbills behind the bathing women.

Spoonbills on goat, Hieronymus Bosch

And these two real spoonbills on the back of a real goat, walking behind fantastic animals.

White storks and barn owl, Hieronymus Bosch

And these two white storks on a pig’s back. With above them, a real barn owl sitting on an ‘unreal’ unicorn’s horn. Another proof that Bosch knew the differences between various owl species.

Hooded crow, Hieronymus Bosch

And finally, this hooded crow. A species which used to be common in the Netherlands in winter; but is rare there now.

There will be more on this blog about that Hieronymus Bosch exhibition. So, stay tuned!

Blue cornflowers and poppies


Blue cornflower, 2 July 2016

2 July 2016. To the fields of Corversbos nature reserve. Where this blue cornflower grew.

Blue cornflowers, 2 July 2016

There was more than just one blue cornflower.

Blue cornflowers, on 2 July 2016

And more than just a few blue cornflowers.

Chiffchaff, chaffinch, blackbird, song thrush and robin sounds.

Long-headed poppies, 2 July 2016

And these long-headed poppies were present as well.

A great spotted woodpecker called.

A buzzard circled in the air.

Dunnocks, and bye bye bird photography hide


Dunnock, 10 June 2016

This, my last blog post on the various bird species we saw on 10 June 2016 at the bird photography hide is about dunnocks. Like this one at the pond.

Dunnock, on 10 June 2016

Bird photo hide, 10 June 2016

We took one last look at the hide, before packing our gear and leaving late in the afternoon.

Plants outside photo hide, 10 June 2016

We left, passing the plants outside the hide.

Probably, we will be back there some time.

White wagtails at bird photography hut


White wagtail, 10 June 2016

Among the various bird species at the bird photography hide on 10 June 2016 were white wagtails as well. Like this one at the pond.

White wagtail, on 10 June 2016

White wagtail, at pond on 10 June 2016

White wagtail, at pond on 10 June 2016

Wrens at the bird photography hide


Wren, 10 June 2016

On 10 June 2016, the smallest species of the various birds at the bird photography hide were wrens. Like this one at the pond.

Wren, on 10 June 2016

Wren, at pond, 10 June 2016

Wren, at hide, 10 June 2016

First Jupiter photo by Juno spacecraft


First Jupiter photo by Juno spacecraft

From NASA in the USA:

July 12, 2016

NASA’s Juno Spacecraft Sends First In-orbit View

The JunoCam camera aboard NASA’s Juno mission is operational and sending down data after the spacecraft’s July 4 arrival at Jupiter. Juno’s visible-light camera was turned on six days after Juno fired its main engine and placed itself into orbit around the largest planetary inhabitant of our solar system. The first high-resolution images of the gas giant Jupiter are still a few weeks away.

“This scene from JunoCam indicates it survived its first pass through Jupiter‘s extreme radiation environment without any degradation and is ready to take on Jupiter,” said Scott Bolton, principal investigator from the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio. “We can’t wait to see the first view of Jupiter’s poles.”

The new view was obtained on July 10, 2016, at 10:30 a.m. PDT (1:30 p.m. EDT, 5:30 UTC), when the spacecraft was 2.7 million miles (4.3 million kilometers) from Jupiter on the outbound leg of its initial 53.5-day capture orbit. The color image shows atmospheric features on Jupiter, including the famous Great Red Spot, and three of the massive planet’s four largest moons — Io, Europa and Ganymede, from left to right in the image.

“JunoCam will continue to take images as we go around in this first orbit,” said Candy Hansen, Juno co-investigator from the Planetary Science Institute, Tucson, Arizona. “The first high-resolution images of the planet will be taken on August 27 when Juno makes its next close pass to Jupiter.”

JunoCam is a color, visible-light camera designed to capture remarkable pictures of Jupiter’s poles and cloud tops. As Juno’s eyes, it will provide a wide view, helping to provide context for the spacecraft’s other instruments. JunoCam was included on the spacecraft specifically for purposes of public engagement; although its images will be helpful to the science team, it is not considered one of the mission’s science instruments.

The Juno team is currently working to place all images taken by JunoCam on the mission’s website, where the public can access them.

During its mission of exploration, Juno will circle the Jovian world 37 times, soaring low over the planet’s cloud tops — as close as about 2,600 miles (4,100 kilometers). During these flybys, Juno will probe beneath the obscuring cloud cover of Jupiter and study its auroras to learn more about the planet’s origins, structure, atmosphere and magnetosphere.

JPL manages the Juno mission for the principal investigator, Scott Bolton, of Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio. Juno is part of NASA’s New Frontiers Program, which is managed at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate. Michael Ravine of Malin Space Science Systems, San Diego, is the JunoCam instrument lead. …

To see a full video of Jupiter and the Galilean moons during Juno’s approach to Jupiter, see:

More information on the Juno mission is available here.

The public can follow the mission on Facebook and Twitter.