Hieronymus Bosch, The Adoration of the Magi, ca. 1475, 71.1 x 56.5cm, The Metropolitan Museum of Art / John Stewart Kennedy Fund, New York.
DEN BOSCH.- Het Noordbrabants Museum in Den Bosch opened the exhibition From Bosch's Stable. Hieronymus Bosch and The Adoration of the Magi. Just two years after the successful exhibition Hieronymus Bosch - Visions of a Genius in the spring of 2016, the museum is once again bringing work by the world-famous Den Bosch master himself back to the city where he lived, worked and then died in 1516. The loan is exceptional: throughout the world, there remain only about 25 original paintings by Bosch.
"Following the phenomenal success of the Bosch exhibition in 2016, we made the commitment to continue researching Bosch, and to regularly bring the art of Hieronymus Bosch back to his home town, ’s‑Hertogenbosch. There is still so much to be discovered about Bosch and his workshop. This exhibition - From Bosch's Stable - is the first in a series of exhibitions that will demonstrate the master's influence on both his pupils and imitators through autograph pieces." - Charles de Mooij, Director, Het Noordbrabants Museum
The Adoration of the Magi
The painting that arrived in Den Bosch in December is The Adoration of the Magi on loan from The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. It depicts the three magi paying homage to the Christ Child, held in the lap of the Virgin Mary. Although this early piece by Hieronymus Bosch is relatively classical in its composition, it does contain a number of typically Boschian elements, such as the face of Christ, the small figures in the background and an owl - a bird that repeatedly features in paintings by the artist.
The theme of the exhibition is Epiphany - or Three Kings' Day - a religious festival that was extremely popular in visual arts in the latter Middle Ages. The period produced a great number of depictions of the festival; full of exotic figures in lavish costumes and with luxuriant attributes. Hieronymus Bosch also portrayed the theme numerous times. Two of those autograph paintings have been preserved: one held in the collection at The Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York), the other at the Museo del Prado (Madrid). Both paintings were copied and imitated early on, proving their desirability. The exhibition From Bosch's Stable – Hieronymus Bosch and The Adoration of the Magi has a strong focus on this imitation of Bosch.
Hieronymus Bosch, Triptych of the Adoration of the Magi, 1494. Grisaille, Oil on oak panel © Museo Nacional del Prado
From Bosch's Stable
The early appreciation for his work in Bosch's own era is remarkable: with more than 30 surviving early copies, Bosch's interpretation is one of the most popular compositions from the late medieval Netherlands. The Bosch Research and Conservation Project has been researching the work and atelier of Bosch since 2010 and has examined a number of these copies closely. The findings have led to some surprising new insights.
In addition to the autograph piece from New York, the exhibition shows artworks by Bosch followers from The National Trust collections in England (Petworth House and Upton House). Paintings and prints by contemporaries such as Jacob Cornelisz van Oostsanen, Martin Schongauer and Lucas van Leyden also are on display, immersing visitors in the Epiphany narrative.
Attributed to Hieronymus Bosch ('s-Hertogenbosch, Brabant c. 1450 - 's-Hertogenbosch 1516), The Adoration of the Magi, circa 1515. Oil on panel, (39 ½ x 29 in) 1005 x 735 mm, Petworth House © NTPL
Attributed to Hieronymus Bosch ('s-Hertogenbosch, Brabant c. 1450 - 's-Hertogenbosch 1516), The Adoration of the Magi, circa 1495 -1500. Oil on panel oak),914 x 724 mm (36 x 28 1/2 in), Upton House © NTPL