The Cure of Folly

Prado Museum Withdraws Works from Hieronymus Bosch Exhibition Over Attribution Dispute

The Museo del Prado in Madrid has cancelled loans of two Hieronymus Bosch paintings from its collection that were to be included in a major Bosch retrospective at the Noordbrabants Museum in ‘s-Hertogenbosch in the Netherlands, according to a report by Martin Bailey in the Art Newspaper. The Prado took issue with the Netherlands-based Bosch Research and Conservation Project’s conclusions that their Bosch painting The Cure of Folly was actually from Bosch’s workshop or a follower and dates to 1510-20. Curators at the Prado maintain it was painted by Bosch between 1500 and 1510. The Prado also cancelled the loan of a second painting titled The Temptation of St Anthony, which they believe dates to around 1490. The Dutch researchers, for their part, believe it is a work by a later follower and that it was done sometime between 1530 and 1540.

The Dutch researchers based their conclusions on infra-red images and high-resolution photography during their conservation work on nine Bosch pictures. A third Bosch painting owned by the Prado that was not requested for the Dutch exhibition was also demoted by the new attribution designations. The Cure of Folly is in the catalogue of the Dutch exhibition but it was withdrawn a few days before the opening due to the dispute over the works’ attribution and a television film about the Dutch research.

A statement from the Prado criticized the Dutch researchers for basing their opinions of the works’ attributions on “extremely subjective stylistic aspects.”