A work by Dutch painter Hieronymus Bosch, one of history’s weirdest artists, has been re-discovered after sitting in storage for the last 80 years. The painting is thought to be one of only five Bosch paintings in the United States. The painting, The Temptation of Saint Anthony, was kept in storage by the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City.
If the painting is accepted by scholars, The Temptation of Saint Anthony would round out the list of 25 recognized Bosch paintings in the world. The work had previously been attributed to Bosch’s workshop or to a follower of his, but new evidence indicating the work was actually completed by Bosch took the underdrawings, comparisons of motifs and details in the painting, into account.
The details of the painting indicate that the handwriting on it is authentic. The Bosch Research and Conservation Project has spent the last six years studying each of Bosch’s known works carefully. So far, they have examined 35 paintings connected to the artist, in preparation for the 500th anniversary of his 1516 death. The other four Bosch paintings in the U.S. are owned by the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the National Gallery of Art in Washington, and the Yale University Art Gallery. The Morgan Library & Museum in New York has a Bosch drawing.
The evidence that Temptation is actually one of Bosch’s works has not yet been reviewed by independent experts. It often takes years for scholars to decide if a work is authentic or not, but the evidence for this particular painting comes from one of the most comprehensive studies ever conducted on a piece of art. The project is highly respected among scholars.
Experts think this painting was part of a much larger triptych that was likely dismantled sometime over the last several centuries. The painting is measures 15 inches tall and 10 inches wide, making it fairly small.
Temptation will be included in an exhibit called “Hieronymus Bosch: Visions of Genius,” the largest Bosch retrospective ever. The exhibit will be held at the Het Noordbrabants Museum in ‘s-Hertogenbosch, Bosch’s hometown, and opens February 13th.