A Dutch art historian in the early 17th century described Bosch's paintings chiefly as "wondrous and strange fantasies often less pleasant than gruesome to look at". Very little is known of his life, religious beliefs, or philosophy other than he lived his whole artistic life in the small Dutch town of Hertogenbosch, from which he derived his name. He married Aleyt Goyaerts van den Meervenne, probably in 1480. She came from a wealthy family.
Bosch was a member of the religious Brotherhood of Our Lady, for whom he painted several altarpieces for the Cathedral of Saint John's, Hertogenbosch, all of which are now lost. Bosch's work is as eccentric as it is disturbing. We know that during his lifetime, his works were appreciated by noble families of the Netherlands, Austria, and Spain where Philip II was an ardent collector. His paintings depict religious visions and the torments of hell. Many scholars have tried to interpret the images and symbols in his paintings, but these interpretations often disagree with one another, resulting in speculations that are often contradictory. Thus, these images and symbols continue to fascinate and puzzle us today, as the search for their meaning continues.