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The Extracting the Stone of Madness
El Bosco
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El Bosco

S'Hertogenbosch (Holanda), 1450 - S'Hertogenbosch (Holanda), 1516

The Extracting the Stone of Madness

1500 - 1510. Oil on oak panel, 48.5 x 34.5 cm.

The scene appears at the center of the painting, inside a circle surrounded by a decoration of golden ribbons over a black background with an inscription in golden gothic lettering. At the top, it reads: Meester snijt die key eras, which can be translated as Master, rid me soon of this stone [of madness], and at the bottom, Myne name es Lubbert das, which has been interpreted as My name is Lubbert Das. Lubbert is a term used in rural language to refer to ignorance or ingenuousness. And, indeed, the scene takes place in the country, where a peasant is being subjected to surgery.

Popular tradition associated madness with a stone lodged in the brain. Taken in its strictest sense, the most naïve sought to free themselves of that supposed stone. Here, Bosch depicts the extraction outdoors. The patient, a mature man whose clogs have been removed, sits in an armchair. The surgeon wears an inverted funnel on his head, alluding to his lack of knowledge. The water lily he extracts from the man’s head resembles the one on the table -implying an earlier operation- and symbolizes the money he will obtain from his hapless patient. The surgeon is thus not a wise man, but rather a fraud. The operation is witnessed by a white-haired monk holding a jug of beer and a nun bearing a book on her head and resting her cheek in her hand. Silver related madness with drink, and neither religion -symbolized by the presence of the two religious witnesses- nor knowledge -symbolized by the book- are sufficient to eradicate it. This painting was in Spain’s Royal Collection and was previously though to be another on the same subject, also by Bosch, which King Philip II had acquired from the heirs of Felipe de Guevara in 1570 for Madrid’s Alcázar Palace. That idea turned out to be false, however, as Guevara’s work was described as a canvas, while the present piece is a panel. Moreover, the latter is smaller than the dimensions listed for Guevara’s canvas. No more is known about the canvas acquired from Guevara, which must have disappeared like many others. Nor is there any information about the present work’s entry into the Royal Collection. It was first listed, as property of the Crown, in the 1794 inventory of the Duke of el Arco’s country estate. As to its probable origin: it may have belonged to Philip of Burgundy, Bishop of Utrecht, as the 1524 inventory of the latter’s castle in Wijk-bij-Duurstede lists a panel called Lubbert Das, who is having a stone removed, and that same expression -lubbert das- appears in the present panel from the Museo del Prado (Text drawn from Silva, P.: El Prado en el Ermitage, Museo Nacional del Prado, 2011, pp. 68-69).


Technical data

Inventory number
El Bosco
The Extracting the Stone of Madness
1500 - 1510
Oak panel
High/Height: 48.5 cm.; Width: 34.5 cm.
Country estate of the Duke of el Arco, sixth room that serves as a cabinet, 1745, [no. 148]; Country estate of the Duke of el Arco, tenth room, 1794, no. 317; Royal Collection.

Bibliography +

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Fierens-Gevaert, Hippolyte, Histoire de la Peinture Flamande des Origines a la Fin du XV, Paris.Bruselas G.Van Oest, 1929, pp. lám.74.

Brans, J.V.L., Hieronymus Bosch (El Bosco) en el Prado y en el Escorial, Barcelona Omega, 1948, pp. 43.

Delevoy, Robert L., Bosch, Ginebra Skira, 1960, pp. 22.

Dohmann, Albrecht, Die Altniederlandische Malerei des Funfzehnten Jahrhunderts, Leipzig E.A.Seemann BuchUnd Kunstverlag, 1964, pp. 260.

Mateo Gómez, Isabel, El Bosco en España, Madrid Instituto Diego Velázquez, del C.S.I.C., 1965, pp. 11 láms.1-12.

Buzzati, Dino, L'Opera Completa Di Bosch, Milan Rizzoli Editore, 1966.

Tolnay, Charles de, Hieronymus Bosch, Londres Eyre Methuen, 1966, pp. 54.

Boon, K.G., Jheronimus Bosch, 's-Hertongenbosch Hieronymus Bosch Exhibition Foundat, 1967, pp. 116.

Friedländer, Max J., Tout L'Oeuvre Peint de Jerome Bosch, Paris Flammarion, 1967.

Reutersward, Patrik, Hieronymus Bosch, Upsala Rudolf Zeidter, 1970, pp. 194.

Boczkowska, Anna, Hieronim Bosch, Varsovia.Berlin Arkady.Henschelverlag, 1974, pp. 16.

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Chailley, Jacques, Jérôme Bosch et ses symboles: essai de décryptage, Bruselas Académie Royale de Belgique, 1978, pp. 75-77.

Bax, Dirk, Hieronymus Bosch. His Picture-Writing Deciphered, Rotterdam A.A.Balkema, 1979, pp. 271.

Brown, Jonathan, A Palace For a King. The Buen Retiro and the Court of Philip, New Haven--Londres Yale University Press, 1980, pp. lám.72.

Joiner, Dorothy Marie, Hieronymus Bosch and the Esoteric Tradition. Tesis Doctoral, Ann Arbor University Microfilms International, 1982, pp. lám.5.

Bango Torviso, Isidro, Bosch: realidad, símbolo y fantasía, Vitoria Silex, 1982, pp. 147.

Courthion, Pierre, La Peinture Hollandaise et Flamande Fernand Nathan, 1983, pp. 56.

Vallese, Gloria, Il tema della follia nell' arte di Bosch: Iconografia e stile : Sansoni Editore, 1983, pp. 3-49 il.1,2.

Vallese, Gloria, Il tema della follia nell'arte di Bosch: iconografia e stile. SANSONI EDITORE, 1983.

Wiams, A., Bosch Prado. Photos en Couleurs, Grandeur Nature de la Colle, Bruselas Loterie Nationale,, 1984, pp. 50.

Marijnissen, Roger H., Hieronymus Bosch. The Complete Works, Amberes Tabard Press, 1987, pp. 440.

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Other inventories +

Inv. Felipe V, Quinta duque del Arco, 1745. Núm. [148].
Otro de dos tercias de alto, y media vara de ancho con quatro figuras trapanando la caveza de un viejo, su marco dorado

Inv. Testamentaría Carlos III, Quinta duque del Arco, 1794. Núm. 317.
Media vara de alto y algo mas de quarta de ancho, unas letras godas y unas figuras de un enfermo que le estan curando una herida = 100

Catálogo Museo del Prado, 1854-1858. Núm. 981.

Inv. Real Museo, 1857. Núm. 981.
Escuela holandesa. / 981. El cirujano de aldea. / Un cirujano estrañamente vestido esta sacando a un paisano una piedra de la frente, ayudado de su muger, y presente el cura del lugar. En la orla del cuadro se leen dos versos holandeses. (tabla.) / Alto 1 pie, 9 pulg; ancho 1 pie, 3 pulg.

Catálogo Museo del Prado, 1872-1907. Núm. 1860.

Catálogo Museo del Prado, 1910. Núm. 2056.

Catálogo Museo del Prado, 1942-1996. Núm. 2056.

Exhibitions +

Captive Beauty. Treasures from the Prado Museum
10.10.2015 - 31.01.2016

Belleza Cautiva. Pequeños tesoros del Museo del Prado
16.07.2014 - 05.01.2015

Captive Beauty. Small Treasures at the Prado Museum
16.07.2014 - 05.01.2015

Captive Beauty. Fra Angelico to Fortuny
21.05.2013 - 10.11.2013

The Imaginary Museum
27.04.2012 - 29.07.2012

Exposición didáctica: El Museo del Prado en Santo Domingo
Santo Domingo, República Dominicana
07.07.2011 - 11.10.2011

El Prado en el Hermitage
San Petersburgo
25.02.2011 - 29.05.2011

03.07.2007 - 07.10.2007

Erasmo en España. La recepción del Humanismo en el primer Renacimiento
04.10.2002 - 06.01.2003

El Bosco
01.09.2001 - 11.11.2001

Arte y cultura en torno a 1492
18.05.1992 - 12.10.1992

Update date: 11-02-2016 | Registry created on 28-04-2015

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