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From Bosch to Bruegel - Uncovering Everyday Life

from October 10 2015 extended until 24 January

Jheronimus Bosch, Haywain-triptych (open), ca.1515, panel, 133 x 100cm (center), 147 x 56 cm (sides). Collection: Madrid, Museo Nacional del Prado. Jheronimus Bosch, The Pedlar, Haywain-triptych (closed), ca.1515, panel, 147 x 112 cm. Collection: Madrid, Museo Nacional del Prado. Jheronimus Bosch, Haywain-triptych (Details). Collection: Madrid, Museo Nacional del Prado. Jheronimus Bosch, The Pedlar, c. 1490-1505 Lucas van Leyden, The Stone-Cutter, 1524 Pieter van der Heyden, Peasant Wedding Dance, c. 1570-1572 Pieter Aertsen, The pancake bakery, 1560 Jan Vermeyen, A Spanish feast, 1545 Anonymous, Dirty Sauce, c. 1560 Frans Huys, Ice Skating before the Gate of Saint George in Antwerp, c. 1558

This autumn Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen uncovered everyday life in the sixteenth century: a world of brothels, skating parties, dancing peasant and quacks. 16th century society was depicted with irony and self-mockery in approximately forty paintings and as many prints. Some works contain a moral, but most are simply humorous. Nothing escaped the attention of these great artists. This was the first time that the extraordinary story of the origins of genre painting had been told in an exhibition.

The exhibition ‘From Bosch to Bruegel’ brought together ‘politically incorrect’ paintings and prints of the highest standard. Approximately forty sixteenth-century paintings and a similar number of prints had been brought to Rotterdam from important museums and private collections. Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen presented the first ever exhibition devoted to sixteenth-century genre scenes, a radical departure from the traditions of religious art and portraiture.The museum had paintings from the pioneers of genre painting: Bosch, Lucas van Leyden and Quinten Massys and later masters such as Pieter Aertsen en Pieter Bruegel, supplemented by a broad range of sixteenth-century prints.

Hieronymus Bosch began painting scenes from everyday life around 1500. Why he did this is not known, but how he did it is phenomenal. The generation that followed him, including Lucas van Leyden, Marinus van Reymerswale, Jan Sanders van Hemessen and Quinten Massys, turned painting on its head. Pieter Bruegel the Elder’s scenes of peasant merrymaking and revelry form the conclusion to this pioneering period. Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen succeeded in bringing works by Bosch and Bruegel to Rotterdam for the first time in their existence. 


The exhibition was accompanied by a lavishly illustrated publication edited by the museum’s curators Friso Lammertse and Peter van der Coelen. Contributors include Rijksmuseum curator Matthias Ubl and Boijmans curator Alexandra Gaba- Van Dongen. This is the first extensive book devoted entirely to the exhibition’s theme: the birth of genre painting in the sixteenth century. It gives a broad overview of the most prominent artists and developments in this period. Six thematic intermezzos will explore everyday household objects depicted in the paintings. The Dutch-language catalogue is published by Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen and is available for €34,95 in the museum shop and via: webshop.boijmans.nl.

Click here for the first chapter in English.

Watch the video about the exhibition here:

‘The Haywain’ back in the Netherlands after centuries

Jheronimus Bosch’s ‘The Haywain’ came back from Madrid to the Netherlands for the first time in 450 years. The painting is one of the masterpieces in the collection of the Museo Nacional del Prado in Madrid. King Philip II of Spain was an avid collector of Bosch’s work and bought this triptych for his private collection in 1570. The work, which has not left Spain since it was acquired, came to the Netherlands in superb condition after restoration some years ago.

Restoration of masterpiece by Hieronymus Bosch

The five-hundred-year-old painting of St Christopher by Jheronimus Bosch is being restored in Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen in full view of visitors. This intriguing process can now be followed as part of this year’s major autumn exhibition, ‘Uncovering Everyday Life – From Bosch to Bruegel’. The restoration will take around eight months to complete. It can be seen in the Art Studio until January 2016. Click here for more information.


This exhibition was on view in the galleries C and D on the second floor. 

Thanks to

‘Uncovering Everyday Life – From Bosch to Bruegel’ is made possible in part through the generous support of BankGiro Loterij, Blockbusterfonds, VSBfonds, Mondriaan Fonds, Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds, Stichting Zabawas, K.F. Hein Fonds, Stichting Bevordering van Volkskracht, Rijksdienst voor het Cultureel Erfgoed, Google Cultural Institute, Nedspice Restauratiefonds, Bosch Research and Conservation Project, Boijmans Business Club, Kring Van Eycke, Rotterdam Partners, Uitagenda Rotterdam, Rotterdam Festivals, RET, Bosch 500 and Gemeente Rotterdam.