Priceless painting by Bosch found in cellar of US museum

‘The Temptation of Saint Anthony’ bought by Missouri museum in 1935 but later thought to have been by student of Bosch

The recently-discovered “The Temptation of Saint Anthony” is presented at the Noordbrabants Museum in Den Bosch, The Netherlands. Photograph: EPA/Piroschka van de Wouw

The recently-discovered “The Temptation of Saint Anthony” is presented at the Noordbrabants Museum in Den Bosch, The Netherlands. Photograph: EPA/Piroschka van de Wouw

 

A priceless painting by the 16th century Dutch master Hieronymus Bosch – best known for his nightmarish depictions of hell – has been discovered in storage in a small museum in the US, bringing the total number of his authenticated works to 25.

The Temptation of Saint Anthony, an oil on panel measuring just 38.6cm by 21.5cm, was bought by the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, Missouri, from a New York dealer in 1935, but was later consigned to a cellar because it was thought to have been by one of Bosch’s students.

Now experts say the painting may originally have been part of a triptych – a work in three panels. Bosch is known to have completed at least 16, eight of which are fully intact. The most famous of these is The Garden of Earthly Delights in the Prado Museum in Madrid.

Handwriting

“Although the image was heavily retouched and overpainted during a 20th century restoration, Bosch’s hand is still clearly recognisable in the original brushwork,” said the researchers, who dated the painting to between 1500 and 1510, when Bosch was about 50 years old.

“It’s the same painting but all of a sudden you see it with more affection,” said Julian Zugazagoitia, director of the Nelson-Atkins Gallery, on a visit to Amsterdam. “It’s as if your child has just won the Nobel Prize.”

The same team from the Netherlands confirmed last year that a drawing named The Infernal Landscape was also by Bosch.

Described by one Dutch historian as “the first heavy metal artist”, Bosch has experienced a huge revival in recent years, with The Garden of Earthly Delights in particular featuring as a design on everything from leggings to skateboards to boots.

The Atlantic magazine in the United States, regarded as a cultural bellwether, named Bosch “the trendiest apocalyptic medieval painter of 2014”.

Hieronymus Bosch was born Jheronimus van Aken in ’s-Hertogenbosch, a town in the south of the Netherlands, in about 1450, and was buried 66 years later on August 9th, 1516.

The Temptation of Saint Anthony is expected to attract huge international attention on February 13th when it goes on exhibit in Bosch’s home town.

This will be as part of an unprecedented retrospective featuring 20 paintings and 19 drawings to mark the 500th anniversary of the artist’s death.