The itinerary <em>TITULORECORRIDO</em> has been successfully created. Now you can add in works from the Collection browser
<em>TITULOOBRA</em> added to <em>TITULORECORRIDO</em> itinerary

The Extraction of the Stone of Madness
Bosch, Hieronymus
Close Continuar a ficha de la obra

Bosch, Hieronymus

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

Bosch, Hieronymus See author's file

The Extraction of the Stone of Madness

1501 - 1505. Oil on oak panel.
Room 056A

In the centre of a rectangular surface Bosch incised a circle in which he depicted this scene of Extracting the stone of madness. The resulting image is a mirror that offers a reflection of folly and human madness, located in a rural world remote from that of the nobility and urban life, hence the setting in the countryside in an open landscape. As found in miniature painting of the time, the artist gave the scene a decorative surround of interlaced gold ribbons against a black background, with an inscription in Gothic script, also in gold, which reads, at the top, Meester snijt die key ras (Master, rid me of this stone soon) and, at the bottom, Myne name Is lubbert das (My name is Lubbert Das).

Popular tradition associated madness with a stone lodged in the brain. Taking the metaphor in its most literal sense, gullible people tried to liberate themselves from this supposed stone by having it removed. Bosch sets the scene outdoors on a small promontory that overlooks a plain with two cities in the distance. He shows the patient as a stout, elderly peasant with his clogs off and tied to a chair. The charlatan or surgeon undertaking the operation wears an upside-down funnel on his head. This object symbolizes deception and reveals that he is not a learned man but rather a fraudster. Instead of a bag, at his belt he has a grey-brown stoneware pitcher of the Aachen or Raeren type so often depicted by Bosch. What he extracts from the patient’s head is not a stone but a type of waterlily like the one on the table, which is left over from a previous operation. While this motif is generally interpreted as a symbol of the money that he will be obtaining from the trusting peasant, the fact that it is a flower has led some authors, such as Arias Bonel, to interpret it in a sexual sense. In this case, rather than curing the patient’s madness the surgeon is castrating him by ridding him of his sexual desire -lust- and thus returning him to the right paths of society and Christian morality. This idea is further suggested by the name of the patient, Lubbert Das, which some authors have translated as castrated badger. As a nocturnal creature that sleeps during the day the badger (das) was considered lazy. Lubbert is a man’s name that is also used as a nickname for a fat, lazy and stupid person, while the verb lubben means to castrate. In addition, the bag hanging from the chair and pierced by the dagger has an erotic, sexual significance.

Bosch achieves something new in this work in his transformation of a popular saying into a visual image. In addition, by adding a calligraphic text and interlaced visual elements (sometimes referred to as love knots) around it, he turns it into a visual and verbal game. This play of words and images which complement each other becomes more complex when we appreciate that what is being extracted from the patient’s head is a flower and thus an allusion to lust. The innovative conception of this work, involving a play of words and images, and the way in which Bosch represented it using formal elements inspired by miniature painting and ceremonial coats-of-arms (to be discussed below) means that it was undoubtedly devised by the artist.

The client of the painting of the Prado was Philip of Burgundy, known as the Bastard of Burgundy, the illegitimate son of Philip the Fair, founder of the Order of the Golden Fleece. It was Philip of Burgundy himself who had Bosch paint a work that evoked the coats-of-arms of the Order of which he was not just a member but the son of its founder. Furthermore, it is more than likely that he gave Bosch specific instructions -differing from his usual procedure- with regard to how he should execute the work, and this explains aspects of the way the artist painted it, such as its flat surface without pictorial texture or impasto similar to that of the coats-of-arms.

With regard to the work’s dating, the information provided by the dendrochronological testing confirms that the panel could have been painted from 1488 onwards. However, to judge by its style and bearing in mind that Philip of Burgundy entered the Order of the Golden Fleece in 1501, it is most likely that Bosch painted it between that year and 1505. For the present painting, Bosch used a support of Baltic oak, over which he applied a chalk ground with an animal glue binder of the type habitual in Flemish painting and in the rest of his works. In an initial phase the underdrawing was executed using a dry, slightly greasy material so that it should not rise to the surface, as would happen with a liquid medium. Everything suggests that the artist proceeded in this manner in order to ensure that the underdrawing should not remain visible, in imitation of the coats-of-arms of the Order of the Golden Fleece to which he was making reference. By contrast to the first use of a dry underdrawing, which I have suggested reflected a specific intention on the artist’s part, in a second phase of underdrawing he used a liquid medium to strengthen outlines, folds in clothing and modelling strokes. However, rather than using the usual grey-black, here he employed whichever colour was to be applied during the painting phase. Given that they lack black, these strokes cannot be seen in the underdrawing nor would they be visible on the surface had the pictorial surface not been abraded.

In conclusion, we can say that there are numerous adjustments to the composition in the two phases of underdrawing, the first phase executed in a dry medium and the second in a liquid medium. There are also differences between the drawing and painting phases, although they are fewer in number than in other works. It is clear that the surface is smoother than usual, but there is no difference with regard to the landscape, and the manner of painting the far distance corresponds to that found in other works by Bosch, for example the background of the central panel in The Haywain Triptych (P02052). These differences reflect the way that Bosch approached this commission and its requirements. He therefore did not hesitate to use a dry material for the first phase of the underdrawing, followed by a liquid one using the same colours as the pictorial surface so that the drawn lines did not become visible on the surface, which was originally more enamel-like than it is now owing to the wear it has suffered (Text drawn from Silva, P.: Bosch. The 5th Centenary Exhibition, Museo Nacional del Prado, 2016, pp. 356-363).


Technical data

Inventory number
Bosch, Hieronymus
The Extraction of the Stone of Madness
1501 - 1505
Oak panel
Height: 48.5 cm; Width: 34.5 cm
Philip of Burgundy, Bishop of Utrecht, castle of Duurstede (Utrecht), before 1524; sold in Utrecht, July 1527; Spanish royal collection, estate of Philip V, in the Quinta del Duque de Arco, property of the Spanish Crown, from before 1745; Spanish royal collection, estate of Charles III, in the Quinta del Duque de Arco, property of the Spanish Crown, in 1794; in the Museo del Prado since 1839.

Bibliography +

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

Lafond, Paul, Hieronymus Bosch. Son Art, Son Influence, Ses Disciples, G.Van Oest, Bruselas. Paris, 1914, pp. 55.

Friedländer, Max J., Die altniederlandische malerei, Paul Cassirer, Berlin, 1927, pp. lám.99.

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

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

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

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.

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

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

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 Monographien, 237, 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.

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

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

Vallese, Gloria, Il tema della follia nell' arte di Bosch: Iconografia e stile, Paragone, 34. 405, 1983, pp. 3-49 il.1,2.

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

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: Revista de Arte, 203, 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.

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

Museo Nacional del Prado, Museo del Prado: inventario general de pinturas (I) La Colección Real, Museo del Prado, Espasa Calpe, Madrid, 1990, pp. nº981.

Darriulat, Jacques, Jerome Bosch et la Fable Populaire, Editions de la Lagune, París, 1994, pp. 14.

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.

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.

Checa Cremades, F, Un príncipe del Renacimiento: Felipe II, un monarca y su ép..., Sociedad Estatal para la Commemoración de los cent..., Madrid, 1998, pp. 583.

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

El Monasterio del Escorial y la pintura, Instituto escurialense de investigaciones históricas. Actas del simposium 1-5 sept. 2001, San Lorenzo Escorial, 2001, pp. 15.

Koldeweij, J. Vandenbroeck, P. Vermet, B., Hieronimus Bosch. The complete paintings and drawings, Abrams, New York, 2001, pp. 33.

Hieronymus Bosch. Das Gesamtwerk, Belser Verlag, 2001.

Silva Maroto, Pilar, Pintura flamenca de los siglos XV y XVI: guía, Museo del Prado, Aldeasa, Madrid, 2001, pp. 148.

The World of Bosch, HIistorisch ABC, Heine Uitgevers, Hertogenbosch, 2001, pp. 136.

Erasmo en España: la recepción del Humanismo en el primer re, Sociedad Estatal para la Acción Cultural Exterior, Madrid, 2002, pp. 260.

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.

López Fanjul, M.; Pérez Preciado, J.J., Los números y marcas de colección en los cuadros del Museo del Prado, Boletín del Museo del Prado, XXIII, 2005, pp. 84-110.

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.

El Prado en el Hermitage, Museo Estatal del Hermitage, 2011, pp. 68-69.

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].

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].

Mena Marqués, M.; Albarrán, V., Azúa, F. de, La belleza cautiva. Pequeños tesoros del Museo del Prado, Museo del Prado - Obra Social ''La Caixa'', Barcelona, 2014, pp. 65.

Diéguez Rodríguez, Ana, 'La extracción de la piedra de la locura' de Jan van Hemessen y el Maestro de Pablo y Barnabás del Museo del Prado: Hans Sachs, Erasmo y la guerra., Boletín del Museo del Prado, XXXII, 2014, pp. 110-121 [115, f.6].

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.

van de Coelen, P. Lammertse, F, De ontdekking van het dagelijks leven van Bosch tot Bruegel., Museum Boijmans van Beuningen, 2015, pp. 66-69 fg.57.

Wauters, Wendy, Extractin the stone of Madness in perspective. The cultural and historical development of an enigmatic visual motif from Hyeronymus Bosch: a critical status quaestionis, Jaarboek Koninklijk Museum voor Schonen Kunsten Antwerpen. Antwerpen Royal museum annual, 2015-2016, 2018, pp. 9-36 f.III.

Prado captive beauty: treasures from the Prado Museum, Mitsubishi Ichigokan Museum, 2015, pp. n.5.

Vanderbroeck, Paul, 'Axiologia e ideologia en el Bosco' En:, El Bosco. La exposición del V Centenario, Museo Nacional del Prado, 2016, pp. 91-113 [96, 110].

Silva, Pilar, 'El Bosco. La extracción de la piedra de la locura' En:, El Bosco. La exposición del V Centenario, Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, 2016, pp. n.51 356-363.

Vázquez Dueñas, E, Felipe de Guevara. Comentario de la pintura y pintores antiguos, Ediciones Akal,, 2016, pp. 67 f.18.

BRCP, Hieronymus Bosch. Painter and draughtsman, technical studies., Mercatorfonds ; Yale University Press,, 2016, pp. n.33 420-429,455.

Hieronymus Bosch: Visions of Genius, Mercatorfonds: Noordbrabants Museum te´s-Hertogen..., 2016, pp. 48-51 n.9.

Büttner, Nils, Hyeronimus Bosch "El Bosco": visiones y pesadillas, Alianza,, Madrid, 2016, pp. 163-164 f.54.

Bosch Research and Conservation Project, Jérôme Bosch. Peintre et dessinateur. Catalogue raisonné, Actes sud,, 2016, pp. 464-467 n.33.

Schwartz, Gary, Jheronimus Bosch: the road to heaven and hell, Overlook Duckworth,, 2016, pp. 188-189.

Ilsink, M Koldeweij, J, 'Werkplaats navolger Jheronimus Bosch, Keisnijding' En:, Jheronimus Bosch : Visioenen van een genie, Mercatorfonds: Noordbrabants Museum te´s-Hertogen..., 2016, pp. 48-51 n.9.

Roy, Francine, 'Excision de la pierre de folie dans les peinture de la Renaissance flamande: à propos d' une oeuvre exposée au Museé d' Art et d' Archéologie du Perigord', Bulletin de la Société Historique et Archéologique du Périgord, 145, 2018, pp. 275-298.

Pérez Preciado, J.J, '«Antes morir que discutir». Sobre las atribuciones históricas de lapintura neerlandesa antigua en el Museo del Prado (1912-33)', Boletín del Museo del Prado., XXXVII 55-57, 2019-2021, pp. 190-211 [210].

Sass, Maurice, 'Meester snijt die keyeras: steinschneiden an leib und geist' En: Steinformen: Materialaität, Qualität, Imitation, Berlin Boston, 2019, pp. 345-361 [346-349].

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

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

Catálogo Museo del Prado, 1910. Núm. 2056.

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

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

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, 1854-1858. Núm. 981.

Inscriptions +

Front, lower right corner

Front, lower left corner

MeeSter Snyt die keye kas. Inscripción conceptual, en caracteres góticos ornamentales dorados. Delevoy traduce: Maestro, operame en seguida.
Front, upper area

Myne name Is lubbert das. Inscripción conceptual, en caracteres góticos ornamentales dorados.Delevoy traduce: Mi nombre es Lubbet Das
Front, lower area

Exhibitions +

From Hell to Paradise
07.04.2022 - 17.07.2022

Bosch. The 5th Centenary Exhibition
31.05.2016 - 25.09.2016

Captive Beauty. Treasures from The Prado Museum
10.10.2015 - 31.01.2016

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)


Displayed objects +

Instruments, Surgical

Update date: 06-09-2022 | Registry created on 28-04-2015

Other works by Bosch, Hieronymus

Print on demand

Print artworks available in our catalogue in high quality and your preferred size and finish.

Image archive

Request artworks available in our catalogue in digital format.