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500 years of Hieronymus Bosch's bizarre landscapes

August 8, 2016

The grotesque, apocalyptic works of Dutch master Hieronymus Bosch have fascinated art lovers for more than 500 years. August 9 marks half a millennium since his death, and Madrid's Prado Museum is showcasing his work.

Ausstellung "Hieronymus Bosch: Visionen eines Genies Der Heuwagen (Ausschnitt)
Image: DW/S. Oelze

In what the Prado Museum has dubbed a unique and most likely unrepeatable show, the work of Dutch Renaissance master Hieronymus Bosch is on display in Madrid through September 11 to mark the 500th anniversary of the painter's death on August 9, 1516.

With its apocalyptic scenes depicting man's struggle against temptation alongside views of heaven and hell, Bosch's incredibly detailed work is known for his bizarre landscapes filled with surreal flying demons, distorted human figures and walking heads.

The Prado said when the exhibition, "Bosch: The 5th Centenary Exhibition," opened in late May that this is one of the few times that most of Bosch's work has been brought together under one roof.

Spanish King Felipe, Dutch Princess Beatrix, Spanish Queen Letizia (L-R) look at the painting 'The Haywain Triptych' at the opening of the 500th anniversary of Dutch artist Hieronymus Bosch at El Prado Museum in Madrid, Spain Copyright: picture-alliance/J. J. Guillen
Spain's King Felipe (left) opened the exhibit on Monday, alongside Dutch Princess Beatrix and his wife, Queen Letizia (right)Image: picture-alliance/dpa/J. J. Guillen

A major show earlier this year in Bosch's hometown of 's-Hertogenbosch, in the Netherlands, also displayed many of his works, but was missing several key paintings like "The Garden of Earthly Delights," which belongs to the Prado.

The exposition shines a spotlight on Bosch's religious triptychs, including the "The Garden of Earthly Delights," ''The Haywain" and "The Temptations of Saint Anthony."

It includes 29 paintings and drawings, along with carvings and engravings, on loan from museums in Lisbon, Vienna, Paris, New York and Washington. They represent around 75 percent of his surviving works.

Spain's King Felipe VI opened the exhibition in May alongside the former Dutch queen, Princess Beatrix. Most of Bosch's works are in Spain, acquired by devoted Bosch fan King Felipe II in the Middle Ages.

Click through the gallery above for a closer look at the exhibition, "Bosch: The 5th Centenary Exhibition" and Hieronymus Bosch's work.

cmk/eg (AP, dpa)

Hieronymus Bosch's 'The Garden of Earthly Delights' online