Larry Silvers
Hieronymus Bosch
Abbeville, 422 pages, $135

Anne Baldassari
Picasso: Life with Dora Maar, Love and War, 1935-1945
Flammarion, 320 pages, $75

In The Waning of the Middle Ages, the Dutch historian Johan Huizinga wrote that in Bosch’s time “a somber melancholy weighed on people’s souls… . It was fashionable to see only suffering and misery, to discover everywhere only signs of decadence and of the near end—in short, to condemn the times or to despise them.” Bosch, an anguished moralist, was painting in 1500, and the semi-millenarian mood may well have given impetus to his apocalyptic vision.

Bosch’s training and travels remain obscure; his pictures cannot be dated; his iconography is baffling; his work filled with disturbing and often inexplicable details. He came from a family of painters who originated in Aachen, in...

Popular Right Now