After the war (1973) ballpoint pen on paper
Artist: Daniel Heller

Bosch Surrealism

Bosch Surrealism, an article that attempts to declare (yet again) famed artist Hieronymus Bosch as the granddaddy, predecessor of the Surrealism art movement. There are of course plenty of visual similarities when comparing works of Surrealist artists with Bosch’s paintings. And, perhaps even a more definitive indication can be found in the “Surrealism Manifesto” of 1924, written by Andre Breton.

In a statement from the article “Bosch and the Surrealists: your guide to wild imagination” – “Paola Volkova, an art critic and art historian, a unique figure in the pantheon of cultural scientists of the second half of the XXth century: When Andre Breton issued the „Surrealist Manifesto“ in 1924, in the twentieth century he first referred to Hieronymus Bosch as the predecessor of surrealism. That’s what it says, the surrealism considers Hieronymus Bosch as its forerunner, its predecessor. Because his world turned inside out the consciousness. He reveals to us nightmares-phantoms of the subconscious, nightmares of the unconscious, presents us absolutely all the forms of our instincts, just embodied in images, in reality, in the subject, in allegory”.

Bosch surrealism

Hieronymus Bosch  (1450 – 1516) was a Dutch painter. His work is known for its very detailed style depicting fantastic imagery. Judging from his paintings he had a very pessimistic view of the world. His most known follower was Peter Bruegel the Elder a master in his own right. His most acclaimed work is “The Garden of Earthly Delights”.

In his most well known bizarre triptych painting The Garden of Earthly Delights, Bosch is depicting erotic scenes, wild strange monsters, fantasy fruits and bad human activities. Parallels that come to mind in the modern era are the flying machines and films like Alien and many others in the Science Fiction movie genre. In fact, Bosch was a Science Fiction painter of his time.


Nowadays we are also very familiar with the works of another great painter a Surrealist of the modern era, one of the pillars of the movement. Salvador Dali (1904 – 1989) Just like Bosch, Dali also painted bizarre images dreams and hallucinations. And just like Bosch, Dalí employed extensive symbolism in his work. For instance, the hallmark “melting watches” that first appear in “The Persistence of Memory” suggests Einstein’s theory that time is relative and not fixed.


Bosch and the modern Surrealists have in common a similar visual style of expression, and perhaps also narrative. This fact inevitably leads to the conclusion that Bosch was indeed the predecessor and the granddaddy of Surrealism.

To view artworks created in the surrealistic style, please browse the gallery shop.

Suggested reading

Bosch and the Surrealists: your guide to the wild imagination – Arthive publications.
Manifesto of Surrealism – Andre Breton.
“Bosch’s Garden of Earthly Delights shows a world waking up to the future” – The Guardian, Jonathan Jones.
“Surrealism” article on this Blog.
“Artwork 101: Understanding paintings” – artgreeT Blog