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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 +

Justi, Carl, Miscellaneen aus drei Jahrhunderten spanischen Kunstlebens, G.Grote, Berlin, 1908, pp. 75.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Schuder, Rosemarie, Hieronymus Bosch, Union Verlag, Berlin, 1975, pp. lám.4.

Goertz, Heinrich, Hieronymus Bosch in Selbtzeugenissen Und Bilddokumenten, Rowohlt, Hamburgo, 1977, pp. 28.

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

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

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

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

Bango Torviso, Isidro, Bosch: realidad, símbolo y fantasía, Silex, Vitoria, 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, Paragone, 405, 1983, pp. 3-49 il.1,2.

Vallese, Gloria, Il tema della follia nell'arte di Bosch: iconografia e stile., Paragone, 34, 1983.

Wiams, A., Bosch Prado. Photos en Couleurs, Grandeur Nature de la Colle, Europalia 85, Loterie Nationale, Bruselas, 1984, pp. 50.

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

Matilla Tascón, Antonio, Felipe II adquiere pinturas del Bosco y Patinir, Goya, 1988, pp. 260.

Hollander, Hans, Hieronimus Bosch. Weiltbilder Und Traumwerk, Dumont Buchverlag, Colonia, 1988, pp. 16 lám.1.

Linfert, Carl, Hieronymus Bosch, Harry N.AbramsInc., Nueva York, 1988, pp. 46.

Museo Nacional del Prado, Museo del Prado: inventario general de pinturas, I, Museo del Prado, Espasa Calpe, Madrid, 1990, pp. nº981.

Bosing, W., Jerome Bosch Environ 1450-1516. Entre Le Ciel et L'Enfer, Benedikt Taschen Verlag, Colonia, 1990, pp. 26.

Molina Figueras, Joan, Un manuscrito catalán de 'Chinurgia Magna' ilustrado en la Corte Vaticana a finales del quattrocento, Anuario del departemento de Historia y teoria de arte, 6, 1994, pp. 35 lám.12.

Darriulat, Jacques, Jérôme Bosch et la fable populaire, Editions de la Lagune, Paris, 1994, pp. 14.

Marijnissen, Roger H., Bosch, Electa, Milano, 1995, pp. 128.

Schwartz, Gary, Hieronymus Bosch, Harry N.Abrams, New York, 1997, pp. 62.

Peñalver Alhambra, Luis, La extracción de la piedra de la locura del Bosco o la cura de la melancolia, REALES SITIOS: REVISTA DEL PATRIMONIO NACIONAL, 1997, pp. 44.

Un príncipe del renacimiento: Felipe II, un monarca y su época, Sociedad Estatal para la Conmemoración de los centenarios de Felipe II y Carlos V, Madrid, 1998, pp. 583.

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Museo Nacional del Prado, Pintura flamenca de los siglos XV y XVI: guía, Museo del PradoAldeasa, Madrid, 2001, pp. 148.

Garrido Pérez, Carmen, El Bosco en el Museo del Prado. Estudio Técnico, Museo del Prado, Madrid, 2001, pp. 51.

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Elsig, Frédéric., Jheronimus Bosch. La question de la chronologie, Droz, Genève, 2004, pp. 108-110 fg.59.

Heck, Christian, Collections du Nord-Pas-De Calais : la Peinture de Flandre e, Bij Peeters, Bruselas, 2005, pp. 177.

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Silver, Larry, Bosch, Citadelles & Mazenod, París, 2006, pp. 155-159.

Marijnissen, Roger H., Jérôme Bosch : Tout l' oeuvre peint et dessiné, Mercatorfonds, 2007, pp. 440.

Coelen, Peter van der, Images of Erasmus, Museum Boijmans van Beuningen, 2008, pp. 226.

Fischer, Stefan, Hieronymus Bosch : malerei als vision, lehrbild und kunstwer..., Böhlau, Colonia, 2009, pp. fig. 23.

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Gonzalez Hernando, Irene, La piedra de la locura, Revista digital de iconografía medieval, IV n. 8, 2012, pp.

González Hernando, Irene, La piedra de la locura, Revista digital de iconografía medieval, IV n.8, 2012, pp. 79-88 [83-84].

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Pérez Preciado, José Juan, ''Restituir la paternidad de algunas tablas muy bellas''. Sobre las atribuciones históricas de la pintura neerlandesa antigua en el Museo del Prado (1819-1912)., Boletín del Museo del Prado, XXXII, 2014, pp. 25.

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De Bruyn, Eric, 'Jheronimus Bosch: his patrons and his public. What we know and would like to know' En:, Jheronimus Bosch, his patrons and his public . International Jheronimus Bosch Conference (3trd) 16-18 september 2012. 's-Hertogenbosch, 2014, pp. 14-17 [24].

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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 +

El Bosco
31.05.2016 - 11.09.2016

Captive Beauty. Treasures from The Prado Museum
10.10.2015 - 31.01.2016

La bellesa captiva. Petits tresors 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

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

Location +

Room 056A (On Display)

Update date: 12-04-2016 | Registry created on 28-04-2015

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