On the Trail of Bosch and Bruegel: Four Paintings United under Cross-examination

‘Tracing Bosch and Bruegel: Four Paintings Magnified’ was a pan-European research project investigating four Netherlandish paintings from the 16th century, all depicting Christ Driving the Traders from the Temple, and presently in the collections of the Kadriorg Art Museum, Tallinn; Statens Museum for Kunst (SMK), Copenhagen; Glasgow Museums, and one in a private collection.

The project aimed to discover the origin and the inventor of the busy composition, the date, place and author of each individual repetition of the composition in a close collaborative research of conservators, conservation scientists and art historians. The multifaceted scientific and art-historical research of the paintings granted new information on the 16th-century practice of making copies and replicas in the Netherlands, in addition to offering valuable new insights about the art market and taste of the period including the reuse of popular iconography influenced by the famous painters Hieronymous Bosch and Pieter Bruegel the Elder.

Extensive scientific research was carried out in order to determine the origin of the motif depicted on the four paintings. Dendrochronological investigation and infrared imagining of the underdrawing in all four paintings clearly determined the chronology of the four paintings. The research therefore revealed all kinds of tales, both technical and art historical, originating in the 16th century but with contemporary resonances, and depending for their full elucidation on 21st-century science and technology.


The project was accomplished with additional external funding by the EU Culture Programme in conjunction with CATS and partners and included three exhibitions in Tallinn, Glasgow and Copenhagen, the latter being the first community lead exhibition at SMK under the title Illuminated – tracing Bosch & Bruegel.


A publication from the research is available for order at Archetype Publications.