Cutting the Stone

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Cutting the Stone
Cutting the Stone (Bosch).jpg
ArtistHieronymus Bosch
Yearc. 1494 or later
TypeOil on board
Dimensions48 cm × 35 cm (19 in × 14 in)
LocationMuseo del Prado, Madrid

Cutting the Stone, also called The Extraction of the Stone of Madness or The Cure of Folly, is a painting by Hieronymus Bosch,[1] displayed in the Museo del Prado in Madrid, completed around 1494 or later.

The painting depicts a surgeon, wearing a funnel hat, removing the stone of madness from a patient's head by trepanation.[2] An assistant, a monk bearing a tankard, stands nearby. Playing on the double-meaning of the word kei (stone or bulb), the stone appears as a flower bulb, while another flower rests on the table. A woman with a book balanced on her head looks on.

The inscription in gold-coloured Gothic script reads:

(Middle Dutch):
Meester snyt die keye ras
Myne name Is lubbert Das

Master, cut the stone out, fast.
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.[3] Otherwise, she is thought to depict folly.

Michel 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."


  1. ^ Ilsink, Matthijs; Koldeweij, Jos; Spronk, Ron; Hoogstede, Luuk (2016). Hieronymus Bosch: Painter and Draughtsman – Catalogue raisonné. New Haven: Yale University Press. ISBN 978-0300-2201-48.
  2. ^ 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. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  3. ^ Skemer 2006:24.

Further reading[edit]