'Jheronimus Bosch and Venice' at Palazzo Ducale

A great exhibition on the controversial Dutch artist and his relationship with Venice

From 18 February 2017 to 04 June 2017

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From February 18th to June 4th 2017 the Doge’s Palace in Venice will host the fascinating exhibition 'Bosch and Venice', an exciting event to discover the works of the Flemish painter treasured in Venice and explore the reasons that brought the city to develop a passion for his original figurative style.

After the monographic exhibitions in Madrid and Hertogenbosch, the native city of the Dutch artist, it is now up to our beautiful lagoon city to conclude the series of exhibitions organized for the 500th anniversary of Bosch's death: Bosch at Palazzo Ducale in Venice celebrates the brilliant painter with a themed exhibition that will take a closer look at the liaison between Hieronymus Bosch and Venice. The Hieronymus Bosch Exhibition 2017 will focus on Bosch's paintings in Venice housed in the Accademia Galleries which have recently been subjected to a careful restoration work. His works of art will juxtaposed to a number of contemporary paintings that bear evidence to the development of a ‘Bosch-style’ taste in Venice which influenced subsequent generations.

Bizarre dreamlike creatures, burnt down cities, monsters and intricate representations... The enigmatic Dutch painter who lived between the mid-1400s and early 1500s had a truly unique style, which mirrored the tastes of the refined and elegant part of Venice at the time. Contemporary to Titian classicism and tonal lyricism, Venetian collectors began to develop a special interest for the world of dreams and this was the specific reason that brought Bosch to Venice...

The 2017 Bosch exhibition in Venice is not just a mere monographic exhibition, but rather the outcome of a series of ongoing studies and analysis. Hieronymus Bosch and Venice will also try to clarify the liaison between the Flanders and the Cardinal Domenico Grimani, hailed as one of the most prominent art collectors in Venice. Thirdly, particular focus will be given to the elegant salons of the Venetian Republic where rich art collections used to instigate stimulating philosophical and moral exchanges of opinion.

Cardinal Domenico Grimani’s vast collection provides a valuable testimony of the sixteenth-century taste for dream-like, bizarre atmospheres and has been the main source of the works on display at the Hieronymus Bosch exhibition in 2017. Besides the three masterpieces by Bosch kept in Venice, the exhibition displays fifty works produced in the same period with the aim to help visitors understand the context in which the works of Bosch achieved such a great resonance: paintings by Jacopo Palma il Giovane, Jan Van Scorel and Quentin Massys, splendid drawings and engravings by Dürer, Bruegel and Cranach, drawings from Leonardo Da Vinci’s graphic corpus, Satyr with drinking bowl by Riccio (Andrea Briosco), the Ink well in the form of a sea monster by Severo da Calzetta and other small items with monster-like features highly sought-after at the time, as well as several paintings by followers of Bosch-style.

Step by step, the Hieronymus Bosch exhibition in 2017 will allow you to better understand the Dutch artist's relationship with Italian art and culture and the origins and significance of a production that will never cease to surprise and intrigue. The Hieronymus Bosch paintings in Venice are not only a tribute to one of the most discussed interpreters of Renaissance in Europe, but also the discovery of a new genre of Venetian collectors. Disturbing visions, hallucinatory scenes and grotesque characters of pure imagination were sought throughout the 1500s and beyond because of their ability to amaze and could open erudite discussions.

The exhibition of Bosch in Venice, arranged in the halls of the Doge’s apartment, is sponsored by the University of Verona and co-produced by the Civic Museums Foundation and the Gallerie dell'Accademia in Venice. Curated by Bernard Aikema, with the scientific coordination of Gabriella Belli and Paola Marini, the Bosch exhibition Venice includes a final virtual section with an augmented reality app that will allow visitors to explore Bosch’s Inferno or plunge into the glares of his Paradise.

But let’s take a detailed look at the exhibition of Bosch at Palazzo Ducale in Venice:

  • Rooms 1 and 2 - Jheronimus Bosch’s works in Venice

Three paintings by Bosch are included in the public collections of Venice and are the Dutch artist's only works kept in Italy: two triptychs and a set of four panels. These are autograph works made by Bosch at the height of his artistic maturity, and documented as being in Venice since the 1600s. ‘The martyrdom of Saint Uncumber’, ‘Three hermit saints’ and ‘Paradise and Hell (Visions of the Afterworld)’ were recently meticulously restored. This process has led to an improved readability of Bosch paintings in Venice, and brought to the attention of experts new clues to better understand Bosch’s influence on Italian arts and explain some of the answered questions related to the Flemish painter.

  • Room 3 - Cardinal Domenico Grimani

The exhibition of Bosch at Palazzo Ducale, Venice, also pays great attention to Domenico Grimani (1461-1523), a highly educated figure who cultivated a wide range of interests and passions. Philosophy, theology, ancient Greek sculpture, Titian, Raphael, Leonardo da Vinci, ... The cardinal, as well as Venice, was highly passionate about art from Flanders: the oneiric visions that captured their attention, however, do not seem to originate from Bosch, but rather from the prints by Dürer, Schongauer and Cranach the Elder, who are all displayed in the exhibition. This passion for dream-like atmospheres was instead what facilitated the presence of Bosch in Venice: Grimani purposely pursued the Dutch artist and wanted him to satisfy his ego and acquire the pretext for stimulating intellectual debates. The cardinal's collection was truly extraordinary and, to better illustrate its variety, the exhibition presents several examples of ancient Greek sculpture and the famous Grimani Breviary, a masterpiece of Flemish miniaturist art.

  • Room 4 – The Grimani collection of antique sculpture

Following the cardinal’s death, his collection was donated to the Republic of Venice. Among the sculptures, there are also three precious marbles kept in the ‘Sala delle Teste’ of the Doge’s Palace.

  • Room 5 - Dreams and monsters in the Renaissance imagination

Where did the interest of the sophisticated and classicist Venetian public towards Jheronimus Bosch derive from? The critic Marcantonio Michiel describes the works of Bosch in the Grimani collection as depictions of 'dreams', 'monsters' and 'fires'. The juxtaposition with these concepts is precisely linked to the fact that they were not new to Venice’s culture: around the year 1500 Italy, and Venice in particular, developed a fascination towards the world of dreams. Publications, prints, drawings, bronze statues in the shape of little monsters all provide evidence of this growing interest. Bosch works were fully in line with this particular current of collectors and the Dutch painter became a kind of myth, so much so that his name came to be precisely linked to this original figurative style.

  • Room 6 – Bosch’s followers and contemporaries in Venice

It is important to focus on the large number of anonymous followers and imitators of Bosch: the exhibition in Venice also describes the emergence and spread of typical Bosch-like motifs in graphics. Deformed heads, grotesque characters, hellish landscapes, impossible architectural structures and all the unreal images associated with Bosch soon became readily available through prints, which contributed to making his art known to a vast audience. Around the middle of the sixteenth century Pieter van der Heyden produced a series of prints, while Johannes and Lucas van Deutecom made several engravings around the same time. It was above all the series of the seven deadly sins by van der Heyden that contributed to the spread of Bosch’s style throughout Europe ... although he drew inspiration from the drawings by Pieter Bruegel and not from the ones by Bosch!

  • Room 7 - The apotheosis of Bosch in the seventeenth century

Towards the end of the sixteenth century, the interest for the grotesque appears to have started to fade. In Venice, it was Joseph Heintz the Younger who for the last time continued Bosch’s gloomy visions and grotesque characters, but his paintings were pure aesthetics with no hidden messages, whereby the world of dreams became just a means to amaze and surprise the viewer in typical baroque taste.

Hieronymus Bosch paintings in Venice: an enigmatic and ambiguous artist who for centuries has been a source of fascination and debating is the protagonist of a charming exhibition in Venice. An exhibition that is more than a mere display of his works and will take you on a real journey to discover the relationship between Venice and the Dutch painter’s art.



  • Until 31st March 2017
    8.30 to 17.30
  • From 1st April 2017
    8.30 to 19.00


By Insidecom Editorial Staff