For example, in "The Calling of St. Matthew," we may be able to identify two such groups: there is a horizontal rectangle formed by St. Matthew and his assistants and a vertical prism, with Jesus and St. Peter.
A significant difference between the two painters and one to which we will return further on is related to the use of color and lighting. There is no chiaroscuro in Bosch's works. Instead, it is replaced by a vivid coloration. It is sometimes comical, sometimes it suggests a joke, but it is also grotesque and horrid at times. Compared to Caravaggio's classical colors, we may arrive at the conclusion that while Caravaggio prefers the contrast between lightness and darkness in his painting to underline different effects, Bosch relies more on his coloring to draw the viewer's attention.
The painting of the haywain cannot be left aside without emphasizing Bosch's trademark: grotesque, surrealistic and devilish figures. In this painting, they are pulling at the haywain. The large array of figures included here give some idea on the painter's imagination, but deeply contrast with Caravaggio's sense of reality and his obsession with portraying ordinary people.
On the other hand, the attention to small details can be seen in Bosch's painting as well. If only we look at the incredible amount of characters he takes on portraying. In "The Haywain," the central panel contains at least fifty such different characters, although constructed on the same archetype.
Bosch's interest in "vernacular symbolism and imagery" comes again to life in "The Last Judgment," another valuable triptych by the Flemish artist. Some were keen to see here one of the ideas often met in the painter's work, that of the fact that hell often comes during one's lifetime and on Earth even before actual death. Here, for example, evil and sin is present in the world even before the Last Judgment.
The imagery is typical Bosch and may often take us to Salvador Dali's works, with its perpetual hesitance between dream and reality. In the middle panel of the triptych, for example, we find, in separate planes, a giant shoe, a large knife and a small creature with a large hat.
Again the same use of vivid colors, although there is a certain preference for darker shades, especially in the middle panel, given the general theme of the painting and the artist's approach to the subject.
The Garden of Delights" is considered by many one of the most enigmatic paintings in the entire Bosch creation. With the creation of man represented on the left panel and hell on the right, the central panel focuses on the "worldly pleasures and sins." There are lots of symbols in the paintings, many of which have found no clear interpretations to this day. In my opinion, the painter may have not necessarily wanted to give reasonable interpretations to such symbols. The artistic vision he had imposed the use of surrealistic, dream world figures, including the futuristic buildings we discover in the middle panel of the "Garden of Delights."
In my opinion, Bosch and Caravaggio couldn't be more apart as artists and painters. First of all, the sources of inspiration greatly differ. On one hand, we have Caravaggio, who finds inspiration in the real world, in the city of Rome and in the people around him. On the other hand, Bosch, while using many of the villagers for his human models, turns towards his own imagination for other objects.
Second of all, the coloring greatly differs from one to another. Bosch generally insists in the use of bright and vivid colors, while Caravaggio, except for his earlier works, uses sober, often dark colors. This is the case for all three paintings we have previously analyzed.
Third of all, the use of light is quite different in the two cases. Caravaggio's entire artistic and technical conception relies on the use of lightness and darkness in his paintings. On the other hand, Bosch prefers either one or the other and almost never insists on the benefits of the chiaroscuro.