Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Art History



First Advisor

Esperanca Camara

Second Advisor

Dr. James Hutson

Third Advisor

Steve Cody


This paper analyzes the artist Hieronymus Bosch and his triptych The Temptation of St Anthony in an attempt to elucidate the creative adoption of medieval tropes to invent new forms of monstrosity in his art and exciting imagery. Throughout this paper, I will review how historians have viewed Bosch’s art and an understanding of the ideas surrounding why Bosch chooses to take on the task of telling the stories of creation and St Anthony’s torment. The Middle Ages saw a spike of creative freedoms and visual interpretations of exotic, otherworldly beasts, from dragon-like beings to inhabitants of far-off lands. Bosch was heavily influenced by this imagery, creating his sketches of the bellymae, a famous medieval creature. Bosch would move on to create large-scale paintings filled with small details of a two-legged horned and pale goblin-like creature alongside the heavenly Saint Anthony holding his hands in prayer in the symbol of the cross. The ugly and the monstrous are symbols of sin and mischievous behavior, something unknown and new to the viewer that can instill fear or excite and pique interest. Throughout this paper, I hope to convince you that Bosch’s skill for inventing monstrous and creative images was his priority when creating his artwork. He chose specific religious stories and themes that would allow him to express this. This thesis will argue that the seemingly inventive subject matter used by Bosch in his works like his St. Anthony actually built on the medieval tradition, allowing him greater inventions.