Movie Review: Hieronymus Bosch: Touched by the Devil #atozchallenge

This is my entry for “H” in the Blogging A to Z Challenge. Throughout April I will be watching and reviewing a documentary movie from A to Z. Some other “H” documentaries I’ve reviewed are Harvard Beats Yale 29 to 29HeimaHelveticaHillsboroughThe Historic Pubs of Dublin, and The Hollywood Librarian.

Title: Hieronymus Bosch: Touched by the Devil
Release Date: 19 November 2015
Director: Pieter van Huystee
Production Company: Kino Lorber

The paintings of Hieronymous Bosch are a curiosity in art history.  His art straddles the line from medieval into the renaissance, but the otherworldly scenes he paints are often strikingly modern.  You could imagine Bosch’s work being displayed alongside Salvador Dali and M.C. Escher.

This documentary focuses on a group of art experts gathering together Bosch’s works for display in an exhibition commemorating the 500th anniversary of his death, to be held in his home town of  ’s-Hertogenbosch in the Netherlands.  The problem is that the small city of Den Bosch (as the Dutch colloquially call it) does not have many of their native son’s works, so have they have to venture to the Prado in Madrid, Gallerie dell’Accademia in Venice, National Gallery of Art in Washington, and elsewhere.  There’s considerable tension in the meetings with the museum directors and curator, especially at the Prado, that do not wish to share the art.

The movie also shows some of the fascinating work done by conservationists to preserve and protect the art. The art researchers also use all manner of high tech tools to authenticate the art as it is often unclear if works are by Bosch or by his workshop or otherwise misattributed.  At one point in the film,  they are actually able to authenticate a small painting at Kansas City’s Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, “The Temptation of St. Anthony,” as an original work of Bosch rather than his workshop.

With Bosch’s work, the devil is in the details (often literally) and like Cave of Forgotten Dreams, the best parts of this documentary is when the camera moves across the painting and stops to linger on those details.  It’s an amazing effect that the motion picture camera can have on studying a still image to bring out things that may not be noticed by the naked eye.

What Can One Learn From Watching This Documentary:

This film is informative on the work and what is little known about the life of Hieronymus Bosch.  I was amazed by the work that is done by art conservators and researchers who authenticate art.  And it’s a behind the scenes view of the sometimes testy and delicate nature of working in the art world.

If You Like This You Might Also Want To …:

Listen to a performance of the “butt music” from Bosch’s “Garden of Earthly Delights:”

Source: I watched this movie on Netflix streaming.

Rating: **1/2