Hieronymus Bosch, “The Haywain Triptych” (c. 1516) (image via Wikimedia Commons)
Late Medieval artist Hieronymus Bosch or else known as “Devil’s Painter” has been one of the most penetrating artist of all times. His artworks see deep insight into man's desires and deepest fears and they are distinguished by their fantastic imagery, detailed landscapes and illustrations of moral and religious themes.
Unfortunately, only few of Bosch's paintings have survived over the centuries and they are located in some of the biggest museums in the world — the Louvre in Paris, the Prado in Madrid, the Accademia in Venice, the Metropolitan in New York and the National Gallery of Art in Washington. This is going to change, thanks to Charles de Mooij, the director of a tiny museum in the Netherlands who after a great seven year effort will succeed to reunite the panels in the town of ‘s-Hertogenbosch (Netherlands), Bosch's birth town where he created his apocalyptic paintings.
Hieronymus Bosch, “The Pedlar” (detail, c. 1494–1516), oil on panel, Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam, Netherlands (image via Wikipedia)
With the help of the Getty Foundation, the Noordbrabants Museum has finally managed to bring 20 of Bosch’s 25 panels home, as well as 19 of 25 drawings, just in time for the 500th anniversary of the artist’s death. Early next year, the loaned paintings will be shown in Hieronymus Bosch – Visions of Genius, the largest Bosch retrospective ever staged. The blockbuster exhibit will be part of town-wide anniversary called Bosch500, featuring a Bosch Parade, 3D recreations of the artist’s freakish figures dancing through the streets, and a canal tour called “The Boat Trip of Heaven and Hell” all about paying tribute to this great medieval painter.
Hieronymus Bosch, “Ascent of the Blessed” (c. 1490) (image via Wikimedia Commons)
The path towards the implementation was tough since convincing these art industry giants to lend their masterworks to the Noordbrabants Museum, which had no paintings to offer for loan in return, was an ambitious venture with several collaborators, and involved intensive conservation and restoration efforts. First, the city of ‘s-Hertogenbosch will fund a research program about the life and work of its famous artist, in order to offer museums new knowledge about each painting in exchange for their loans. The findings of the vast research project will be made public in a documentary in November, and later published in two glossy art books in 2016.
The Prado museum declined to loan their most prized Bosch, “The Garden of Earthly Delights,” but offered “The Haywain” instead, which will leave Madrid for the first time in 450 years. Also, there will be the “Four Visions of the Hereafter,” restored with the Getty’s help, featuring four freakish panels depicting “Fall of the Damned,” “Hell,” “Earthly Paradise” and “Ascent into Heaven.”
Hieronymus Bosch, “Terrestrial Paradise” (detail, c. 1490) (image via Wikimedia Commons)
“Bosch is one of the very few painters who — he was indeed more than a painter! — who acquired a magic vision,” Henry Miller wrote in 1957. “He saw through the phenomenal world, rendered it as transparent, and thus revealed its pristine aspect.” Get ready, the 500th anniversary will be an extravagant imaginary vision and also a homage to his great contribution to art.
Hieronymus Bosch – Visions of Genius will be on view at Noordbrabants Museum (’s-Hertogenbosch, The Netherlands) from February 13 until May 8, 2016.