“The Garden of Earthly Delights


Heironymous Bosch, "The Garden of Earthly Delights" 1490-1520. Oil on wood panels.
Hieronymus Bosch, “The Garden of Earthly Delights” 1490-1520. Oil on wood panels.


Some artists are ahead of their times. Can you believe this painting is from between 1490-1520? When you look at the details – they are strange foreshadowings of Surrealism, especially the work of one Salvador Dali (theres nothing new under the sun, remember?) This work is what we in the art history world call a triptych – a painting in three parts. These were typically seen in religious scenes, altar pieces, for example. Bosch, illustrates the story of Adam and Eve, and gives us a warning of the perils of indulging in temptation. The left pane tells the story of man and woman joining for the first time, with the largest, center panel  plays upon our fantasies and frivolous natures. It is the right panel that is the warning – for here we see hell. Strange creatures devour, oversized ears frame a jagged knife, and tiny imps revel in all the horror. Bosch’s images become almost metaphysical – are completely frightening and utterly fantastical. That is what makes it hard to look away!



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