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The Stone Operation / The Extraction of the Stone Madness / The Cure of Folly

Hieronymus Bosch

The Stone Operation / The Extraction of the Stone Madness / The Cure of Folly

Hieronymus Bosch
  • Date: c.1494 - c.1516
  • Style: Northern Renaissance
  • Genre: religious painting
  • Media: oil, panel
  • Tag: allegories-and-symbols, Christianity
  • Dimensions: 48 x 35 cm
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Bosch’s symbolic genius is hard at work in this painting. It used to be thought that a stone was the cause of madness, and if removed, it would cure the individual of insanity or folly. The stone was removed through trepidation, or drilling a whole into an individual’s skull and literally removing the “stone.” Bosch’s play on the imagery in the painting is beyond literal. The person performing the procedure is wearing a funnel hat, which at the time meant he was a charlatan, and the woman wears a book on her head, which also suggests folly. Combined, the images are a satire on madness and folly, as they depict a ridiculous scene, filled with symbolism of the nonsensical.

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