CODART, Dutch and Flemish art in museums worldwide

Beyond Bosch: The Afterlife of a Renaissance Master in Print

Exhibition: 17 April - 19 July 2015

Study day: April 17, 2015

In conjunction with the opening of Beyond Bosch: The Afterlife of a Renaissance Master in Print, the Saint Louis Art Museum presents a day of in-depth discussions in the galleries. For more information please see: Study Day for Beyond Bosch: The Afterlife of a Renaissance Master in Print.

The exhibition

The Netherlandish master Hieronymus Bosch (ca. 1450−1516) captured the imaginations of his Renaissance patrons with paintings of hellfire and hybrid monsters, and his reputation has only grown since. In the wake of his death, Bosch became nothing short of a highly desirable brand, a bestseller among sixteenth-century artists. This exhibition explores arguably the most powerful engine that fomented the artist’s afterlife: his transmission through the growing and highly sophisticated market for European prints.

Printmaking flourished in Bosch’s lifetime, but only a small handful of engravings by his contemporary Alart du Hameel have any potential connection with Bosch himself. The Boschian print phenomenon truly exploded after the artist’s death in the mid-16th century under the aegis of the pioneering Antwerp print publisher Hieronymus Cock, and maintained force into the 17th century. These later prints are not literal reproductions of known works by the artist. Rather, they are images inspired by Bosch’s unique legacy of artistic invention. A key figure in this phenomenon was the great Antwerp artist Pieter Bruegel the Elder, who figured himself as “a second Bosch” when he launched his own career in print at Hieronymus Cock’s publishing house.

This exhibition of Boschian prints draws almost exclusively from a private collection in St. Louis, with a handful of strategic loans, in order to tell the story of Bosch’s afterlife in print for the first time. It will demonstrate the many ways prints could popularize an artist like Bosch, transforming his name into an international brand associated with everything from monstrous drolleries to moral dramas, and serving as a launching ground for many artists after him.

Beyond Bosch is co-curated by Marisa Bass, assistant professor of art history and archaeology at Washington University in Saint Louis, and Elizabeth Wyckoff, curator of prints, drawings, and photographs at the Saint Louis Art Museum. The exhibition will be accompanied by a scholarly catalogue with contributions by Bass and Wyckoff, as well as Matthijs Ilsink of the Bosch Research and Conservation Project and Peter Fuhring of the Fondation Custodia in Paris.

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