Hieronymus Bosch’s entire body of work
is the Medieval religious art equivalent of a Tumblr shitpost. He painted a self-portrait with demons operating a tavern out of his own gaping asshole, and now it’s regarded as among the finest and most daring works of its era. We should all aspire to his example.
The focal point of Hell, occupying a position analogous to that of the Fountain of Life in the Eden wing, is the so-called Tree-Man, whose egg-shaped torso rests on a pair of rotting tree trunks that end in boats for shoes. His hind quarters have fallen away, revealing a hellish tavern scene within, while his head supports a large disc on which devils and their victims promenade around a large bagpipe. The face looks over one shoulder to regard, half wistfully, the dissolution of his own body. A similar, though less forcefully conceived, tree-man was sketched by Bosch in a drawing now in the Albertina, Vienna. The meaning of this enigmatic, even tragic figure has yet to be explained satisfactorily, but Bosch never created another image that more successfully evoked the shifting, insubstantial quality of a dream.