Bosch becomes El Bosco again

421,700 people attended the great Hieronymus Bosch exhibition in Den Bosch, the painter’s birthplace. Now it is the turn of the Prado in Madrid, with El Bosco. La exposición del V Centenario (until September 11th).

The Spanish Museum has a couple of extra treasures. The first is the Garden of Earthly Delights. The Prado did not allow this fragile triptych to travel to the Netherlands. Bosch’s Seven Deadly Sins (below) also remained in Madrid. According to the experts at the Bosch Research and Conservation Project in the Netherlands, this cannot be a real Bosch: the tree which provided the table on which the canvas was painted was felled after the painter’s death in 1516, but it certainly remains an intriguing work.

Then there were the museums which had to choose between lending to Den Bosch or Madrid. London’s National Gallery sent its Christ Crowned with Thorns to Madrid, as did Lisbon with the Temptation of St Anthony (below) and Vienna with the Final Judgement. The Spaniards see the painter as a Flemish master and Flanders was Spanish in the sixteenth century, so they see him as a Spaniard too: El Bosco.

The Garden of Earthly Delights, which consists of the Garden of Eden, the Garden of Earthly Delights and Hell, came into the possession of the ‘Father of the Fatherland’ William of Orange and was confiscated by the Duke of Alba in 1568. King Philip II of Spain bought it from the estate of Alba’s illegitimate son Duke Don Fernando and had it brought along with other works to his residence El Escorial. There it hung until the Spanish Civil War broke out in 1936 and the work was taken to the Prado.

Read more about Bosch in these two articles from The Low Countries Yearbook:


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