Hidden Hieronymus Bosch Painting Discovered in Kansas City

The discovery brings the total Bosch works in the US up to five.

Hieronymus Bosch, The Temptation of St. Anthony. Photo: Rik Klein Gotink/Image processing by Robert G. Erdmann for the Bosch Research and Conservation Project.
Hieronymus Bosch, The Temptation of St. Anthony. Photo: Rik Klein Gotink/Image processing by Robert G. Erdmann for the Bosch Research and Conservation Project.

The world reportedly has a new Hieronymus Bosch artwork. An oil painting that has spent the better part of the last 80 years in storage at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City is thought to be one of just five works by the artist in the US, and one of only about 25 paintings believed to be by the master’s hand, reports the New York Times.

The Temptation of St. Anthony (1500–10) shows the saint surrounded by a number of the surreal monsters and scenes that are Bosch’s signature. The addition to the artist’s oeuvre would help make up for the Bosch Research and Conservation Project‘s (BRCP) recent determination that two canvases long attributed to the Dutch artist were likely created by his studio, rather than the master himself.

In anticipation of the 500th anniversary of Borsch’s death in 1516, the BRCP has spent the last six years conducting a careful study of the artist’s known works. The $3.3 million effort has examined 35 paintings connected to the artist thanks to funding from the city of s’Hertogenbosch, Netherlands; the Foundation Jheronimus Bosch 500; the Gieskes-Strijbis Fund; and the Getty Foundation.

Hieronymus Bosch, <em>The Temptation of St. Anthony</em>, as seen through infrared imaging. Photo: Rik Klein Gotink/Image processing by Robert G. Erdmann for the Bosch Research and Conservation Project.

Hieronymus Bosch, The Temptation of St. Anthony, as seen through infrared imaging.
Photo: Rik Klein Gotink/Image processing by Robert G. Erdmann for the Bosch Research and Conservation Project.

The Temptation of St. Anthony was one of the last works investigated by the BRCP, and will be included in “Hieronymus Bosch: Visions of Genius,” the biggest Bosch retrospective ever held, at the Het Noordbrabants Museum in ‘s-Hertogenbosch, the artist’s hometown.

The exhibition, which opens February 13, includes several important loans, including The Adoration of the Magi, from the collection of New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art; and The Haywain Triptych, from the Museo Nacional del Prado in Madrid, now back on Dutch soil for the first time in 450 years.

The iconic Garden of Earthly Delights won’t be making the trip from the Prado (which recently reaffirmed its custody of the masterpiece), but you can explore an interactive version of the insanely detailed work here.

The butt music in question from Bosch's Garden of Earthly DelightsPhoto: screengrab via Wikimedia

A detail from Bosch’s Garden of Earthly Delights.
Photo: screengrab via Wikimedia.

The Nelson-Atkins Museum, which was founded in 1933 from the estate of local real estate and newspaper scion William Rockhill Nelson, purchased The Temptation of St. Anthony in 1935 from a New York dealer at an unknown price.

The small panel painting has long been thought to be the work of a Bosch follower, or his studio. By analyzing the piece using infrared photography, researchers uncovered detailed underdrawings showing numerous revisions to the finished scene. (Bosch was known for extensively revising his compositions as he worked.) The painting appears to have been cut from a larger panel and may have originally been part of a triptych.

“It’s everybody’s dream as a museum director that something as positive as this happens,” Julián Zugazagoitia, the Nelson-Atkins’s director and chief executive officer, told the Times, declining to put a value to the work. “It was always priceless to us, and now it’s just more priceless.”


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