Prado Museum Backs Out of Loaning Demoted Bosch Works to Historic Retrospective

The exhibition travels to Madrid in May.

Hieronymus Bosch, The Cure of Folly detail). The artwork is no longer attributed to the Dutch artist. Photo: Museuo Nacional del Prado, Madrid.
Hieronymus Bosch, The Cure of Folly detail). The artwork is no longer attributed to the Dutch artist. Photo: Museuo Nacional del Prado, Madrid.
Hieronymus Bosch, <em>The Cure of Folly</em>. The artwork is no longer attributed to the Dutch artist. Photo: Museuo Nacional del Prado, Madrid.

Hieronymus Bosch, The Cure of Folly. The artwork is no longer attributed to the Dutch artist.
Photo: Museuo Nacional del Prado, Madrid.

The Museo Nacional del Prado in Madrid has abruptly rescinded a promised loan to the current “Hieronymus Bosch: Visions of Genius” exhibition at the Noordbrabants Museum in the artist’s hometown of ’s-Hertogenbosch, the Netherlands.

The New York Times reports that the Prado only informed the Noordbrabants a few weeks ago that the exhibition, which opened February 13 and is the largest Bosch retrospective ever organized, would be short two paintings.

The Prado recently fought to keep custody of several other Bosch canvases that originally came from the Spanish royal family’s collection, including the iconic The Garden of Earthly Delights.

Hieronymus Bosch, The Haywain Triptych. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

Hieronymus Bosch, The Haywain Triptych.
Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

The two works in question for the Dutch loan, The Cure of Folly and The Temptation of St. Anthony, were recently examined by the Bosch Research and Conservation Project‘s (BRCP) as part of a six-year effort to examine the Dutch master’s oeuvre and complete a catalogue raisonné in anticipation of the 500th anniversary of his death in 1516. The organization downgraded the canvases from bona fide Bosch paintings to the work of the artist’s workshop or followers.

The BRCP’s finding have changed the Bosch landscape, identifying a painting at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City as an authentic Bosch, and reattributing Christ Carrying the Cross and The Seven Deadly Sins (also at the Prado) to members of his studio.

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 Spanish museum did contribute two canvases by Bosch to the retrospective, including The Haywain Triptych, which returned to Dutch soil for the first time in 450 years this past fall, appearing at the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen in Rotterdam before travelling to ’s-Hertogenbosch. All four Prado Bosch paintings will be on hand when the exhibition travels to Madrid in May.

“The loan requests for the other two works proved to be at a very late stage unsuccessful,” said Noordbrabants director Charles de Mooij in a statement in the Times.” The reason why the works in question were in the end not loaned to the Noordbrabants Museum is for the Prado to answer.”

The Prado has confirmed that the loan was cancelled, but has not commented on the issue.


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