Visions of Genius
Many paintings were restored following the study of the Bosch Research and Conservation Project, receiving funding from amongst others The Getty Foundation (Panel Paintings Initiative). The 12 panels will be on view to the public for the first time at this exhibition. The majority of the paintings will be returned to their original glory in 2016. Their presentation will lend a new and surprising picture of the updated oeuvre of Hieronymus Bosch.
The exhibition comprises circa 20 paintings and 19 drawings by Bosch, including four triptychs and for double-sided painted panels. There will also be 7 panels from his studio and/or of significant pupils. Roughly 70 works will show the context of this mediaeval art from the 15th and 16th centuries. For the public it will be the first viewing of 12 panels restored especially for this exhibition and the Hieronymus Bosch Year. Dozens of loaned works will come from prestigious museums all over the world. They include top works like the Haywain from Museo Nacional del Prado (Madrid), the Ship of Fools from Musée du Louvre (Paris) and four works of Visions of the Hereafter from Gallerie dell'Accademia (Venice), plus other works from Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen (Rotterdam) and the Metropolitan Museum (New York). The exceptionally large number of works loaned to the exhibition will offer visitors a unique opportunity to study close up the revolutionary and highly imaginative visual language of Hieronymus Bosch.
Preparations for the exhibition at the Noordbrabants Museum got underway back in 2007. The foundations for the exceptional works being loaned out for the exhibition were laid by the Bosch Research and Conservation Project (BRCP), an ambitious large-scale international art history study conducted together with the Hieronymus Bosch 500 Foundation and Radboud University of Nijmegen. A team of international experts headed by Jos Koldeweij and Matthijs Ilsink spent six years intensively and systematically studying and documenting virtually the entire oeuvre of the master Bosch worldwide using state-of-the art technology. This produced collaboration with all museums with Bosch paintings and drawings in their collections and paved the way for the exhibition. The long-awaited results of the Bosch Research and Conservation Project provided the basis for exhibition in 2016.
The results of this scientific research are being published in a two-volume Hieronymus Bosch monograph comprising a catalogue of his works and technical studies, approximately 1000 pages in all. Besides the catalogue of his works, a public catalogue will be published, plus a highly advanced yet user-friendly website where all the BRCP documentation can be viewed.
The exhibition has been structured openly spatially and arranged into themes. The following themes will guide visitors through the exhibition: The Pilgrimage of Life, Bosch in ’s-Hertogenbosch (Den Bosch), The Life of Christ, Bosch as Draughtsman, Saints and The End Times. Using technologies employed during the scientific research, the reconstructions and visualisations embodied in the exhibition will provide a unique insight into the creation of Bosch's works.
Characteristic of Bosch are the diabolical figures, well-known monsters, angels and saints that populate his drawings and panels. His characteristic work, full of illusions and hallucinations, peculiar freaks and nightmares, inimitably represents the major themes of his time: temptation, sin and reckoning. Created in the period around 1500, the transition between the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, Bosch’s paintings and drawings mysteriously reflect the relationship between the individual, his surroundings and his creator. He is an artist who ranks among the absolute world masters, whose work inspired the generations that followed and continues to inspire new artists to this very day.
’s-Hertogenbosch is the official name of the city, but colloquially almost everybody calls it Den Bosch. Literally it means 'the Duke’s Forest'. In 1185, Duke Henry the First of Brabant granted it city rights together with trading privileges. The oldest spot in the heart of Den Bosch is the triangular market called Markt, which was also home to the city's most famous resident, Hieronymus Bosch. The inner-city is the largest walled area in Holland. Within the city walls, Den Bosch has largely retained its mediaeval structure, with its numerous winding and staggered streets with warehouses and merchant’s houses along the Dieze river. Even today Hieronymus Bosch would have no difficulty finding his way around the town.
In 2016 it will be exactly 500 years ago that Hieronymus Bosch died in Den Bosch. The exhibition is the highlight of the National Hieronymus Bosch 500 Events Year being organised next year to mark the 500th anniversary of the artist's death. It is homage to the most influential mediaeval artist of Holland. Once-only a majority of his works are returning to Den Bosch, the city where he was born as Jheronimus van Aken, where he painted his masterpieces and from which derived his artist’s name of Bosch.
Besides visiting the exhibition, Hieronymus Bosch fans can explore this old inner-city, including for example climbing up the late-Gothic St John's Cathedral and visiting Markt with its statue of Hieronymus, City Hall and ‘De Moriaan’ (the oldest brickwork house in Holland) or taking a boat trip over the Dieze, the centuries-old system of all watercourses within the walls of Den Bosch. There is also the Jheronimus Bosch Arts Centre for those who want to deepen their knowledge and experience of the artist. Den Bosch, principal city of the province of North Brabant and a culinary gem, has already been acclaimed four times as the most hospitable city in Holland.
Together with Holland as a whole, Den Bosch will celebrate in 2016 the return of the works of world famous painter Hieronymus Bosch to the city where he produced them more than 500 years ago. Visitors will be treated to a cultural event with a richly varied programme that has something for everybody interested in the mediaeval master, his world and his work. The highlight of the year will be a unique exhibition at The Noordbrabants Museum. In 2016, Den Bosch and rest of Holland will be completely immersed in Hieronymus Bosch 500 year, with festive events such as special music, dance, theatre and circus productions, exhibitions, thematic routes and festivals. 'Hieronymus Bosch 500': a year full of inspiration and indulgence. To see the full programme visit www.bosch500.nl.
Ticket sales start online on December 1, 2015 on tickets.hnbm.nl. Time slots have been organised for the exhibition. Answers to frequently asked questions about the exhibition can be found here.
The exhibition is part of the Hieronymus Bosch 500 Year and was made possible by parties including the Municipality of Den Bosch, North Brabant Province, Ministry of Education, Culture and Science, BankGiro Loterij, Essent, Rabobank, Gieskes-Strijbis Fonds, Fonds 21, Ammodo, Prins Bernhard Culturfonds, KLM and The Getty Foundation.