A row over paintings could be brewing as Spain’s National Heritage office plans a new museum
A silent row could brewing between Spain’s National Heritage office and El Museo del Prado in Madrid. According to the Spanish newspaper El Confidential, the Prado’s director, Miguel Zugaza, received a letter from the president of the National Heritage office, José Rodríguez-Spiteri Palazuelo, asking for the return of four old master paintings, including Hieronymus Bosch’s well-known triptych, The Garden of Earthly Delights, 1500-05.
The major works have been under the care of the Prado since the late 1930s, when they were moved there for safekeeping during Spain’s Civil War. The oldest among them is the eight-foot-wide painting Descent from the Cross, around 1435, by the Dutch Northern Renaissance artist Rogier van der Weyden. That work, and two by Hieronymus Bosch, The Garden of Earthly Delights, and The Table of the Mortal Sins, late 15th century, have reportedly been requested alongside Tintoretto’s The Foot Washing, 1548-49.
When reached by The Art Newspaper, the National Heritage office declined to comment and the Prado denies receiving the letter. But the four works are highlighted as masterpieces of the Royal Collection on the new National Heritage website, launched earlier this year. The site lists them as on “temporary deposit at the Museo Nacional del Prado”.
The claim on the works comes as the National Heritage office plans a new museum to house the Royal Collections, due to open in 2016 in Madrid under the direction of José Luis Díez. El Confidential also reports that relations between the two institutions are frozen for the time being, with the National Heritage office recently rejecting a loan request from the Prado for its upcoming exhibition “Bernini and Spain” scheduled to open on 21 October.