Cutting the Stone
|Year||c. 1494 or later|
|Type||Oil on board|
|Dimensions||48 cm × 35 cm (19 in × 14 in)|
|Location||Museo del Prado, Madrid|
The painting depicts the extraction of the stone of madness, a "keye" (modern Dutch: kei) (in English a "stone" or "bulb") from a patient's head, using trepanation by a man wearing a funnel hat. In the painting Bosch has exchanged the traditional "stone" as the object of extraction with the bulb of a flower. Another flower is on the table.
The Gothic inscription reads
Meester snyt die keye ras
Myne name Is lubbert Das
(in English: "Master, cut away the stone
my name is Lubbert das").
Lubbert Das was a comical (foolish) character in Dutch literature.
It is possible that the flower hints that the doctor is a charlatan as does the funnel hat. The woman balancing a book on her head is thought by Skemer to be a satire of the Flemish custom of wearing amulets made out of books and scripture, a pictogram for the word phylactery. Otherwise, she is thought to depict folly.
Foucault, in his 'History of Madness', says "Bosch's famous doctor is far more insane than the patient he is attempting to cure, and his false knowledge does nothing more than reveal the worst excesses of a madness immediately apparent to all but himself."
Attributed works 
This painting, and others by Bosch, were an inspiration to the works of the seminal Punk musicians Wire. On their album, "The Ideal Copy", they included a track titled "Madman's Honey" which included the lyric "master cut the stone out, my name is Lubbert Das" — a direct reference to this Bosch painting.
Philadelphia punk band Mischief Brew titled their third full-length LP "The Stone Operation." The album makes numerous references to the Bosch painting, and the stone of madness, in both the lyrics and artwork.
The MSX game Don't Cock it Up used this painting for its box art.
- Povoledo, Elisabetta (October 27, 2008). "In Rome, a New Museum Invites a Hands-On Approach to Insanity". The Economist. Retrieved 2008-10-28. "The logo of the Mind’s Museum is an overturned funnel. It is a reference to a 15th-century painting by Hieronymus Bosch that depicts a doctor using a scalpel to extract an object (the supposed “stone of madness”) from the skull of a patient. The doctor is wearing a funnel as a hat."
- Skemer 2006:24.
- "Mischief Brew - The Stone Operation". Punknews.org. Retrieved 2012-04-05.
Media related to Cutting the Stone at Wikimedia Commons
Further reading 
- (book on head) Binding Words Textual Amulets in the Middle Ages. Skemer, Don C. PA: Penn State Press, 2006. p. 24, 136n. ISBN 0-271-02722-3.