Last displayed more than a decade ago and kept mostly in storage at a small museum in Kansas City is not the treatment you'd expect for a rare painting by a Renaissance master. But the Kansas City Star reports that's exactly what's happened to The Temptation of St. Anthony, now believed to be one of only about 25 recognized paintings by the Dutch artist Hieronymus Bosch. Since purchasing it from a New York gallery in 1935, the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art has operated under the assumption that the 15-by-10-inch, 500-year-old oil-on-wood painting was simply created by Bosch's workshop. But that changed when a team of Bosch experts came to look at it in September as part of their attempt to catalog all of Bosch's work in time for the 500th anniversary of his death this year, according to the New York Times.
Those experts left the Missouri museum believing The Temptation of St. Anthony can be "ascribed to Bosch with confidence," the AP reports. The panel is believed to be part of a larger work, possibly part of a wing of a dismantled triptych. "I'm stoked," Rima Girnius, a Nelson-Atkins associate curator, tells the Star. The experts used infrared photography and reflectography to look at layers of work that had been erased or painted over while comparing its motifs and brush work, on a microscopic level, to other Bosch works. In fact, they're so confident they've uncovered a lost Bosch that The Temptation of St. Anthony went on display in Bosch's hometown in the Netherlands on Monday. “It’s the same painting, and all of a sudden you see it with more affection,” Nelson-Atkins director Julián Zugazagoitia tells the Times. (A "toy" shipped from Belgium was actually a lost Picasso.)