Garden of the Earthly Delights

Garden of the Earthly Delights

            The Garden of Earthly Delights is a Gothic painting by the Dutch painter Hieronymus Bosch. Dates from the early XVI century, just about 1500, although the date is unknown. It is an oil painting on canvas triptych. It is an artwork of great symbolic content that have been offered numerous interpretations.
In the left panel is represented the Earthly Paradise or Garden of Eden, where you can see how God is presenting Adam to Eve. It seems all very peaceful but you can see animals being devoured, representing the sin. The ponds and rocks are, for Bosch, the lair of the devil.
In the central panel is represented the Garden of Delights. It is a false paradise where humanity has succumbed to sin, especially lust, and goes into perdition. All kinds of sexual and erotic heterosexual and homosexual relationships, and masturbation, is here. Also among animals and even between plants. The ponds are not clean, are the source of all evil. They are the waters off sins.
In the right panel is represented the Hell. Many musical instruments appear, although it is unclear why Bosch related the music to sin. He has painted the torments of hell, which is exposed Humanity. At the top level is the typical image of hell, fire and torture. The architectures are mired in strange phosphorescent lighting. In the central part, a dream world appears with fantastic creatures. At the bottom left a group of players appears tormented and tortured by demons.

The painters of the second half of the XV century do not free themselves from the influence of Van der Weyden, although the desire for originality and Italian Renaissance influences are factors that characterizes them. Van der Weyden was an artist of the first half of the XV century. This group of painters is called the Flemish Primitives.
In the Netherlands and the rest of Europe has completely lost the Romanesque tradition. Tapestries were used. It is in the best altarpieces where the painting technique of the early Flemish manifests. These are small proportions. When large altarpieces are wanted, the tables are overlaped, which are always small. The most common type is the triptych, serving the side of doors.
Because of the small size, the technique is detailed, as thumbnails, which is a antecedent of this technique in the Flemish Primitives. This technique is favored by the introduction of oil painting, innovation attributed to the brothers Van Eyck, who also found the method to dry quickly.
Hieronymus Van Aken, nicknamed Bosch, was a godly man, a member of the most prestigious home brotherhood dedicated to the cult of the Virgin Mary, he shared the concerns of religion, sin and sex manifested in the contemporary movement of modern devotio, given by the Netherlands.
The Gothic flourishes in the second half of the XII century and continuing until the Renaissance (in Italy until the XV century). It was born in northern France, and gradually is spreading and overruling the Romanesque. It is called Gothic by the Goths, is a derogatory term. Thinking in the Gothic period changes. Compared to the Romanesque, where God was a cruel entity that struck fear to believers, in the XV century religion changed. Now God was merciful, and the light was the source of power. So they passed to make small and dark Romanesque churches to high and bright Gothic ones.

          In conclusion, this painting is one of the most interesting in the history of art. It has such an extensive symbolism and such a great variety of interpretations that a comment of this work may be too long, so I commented the fundamental. An artwork that everyone should know.
It is located in the Museo del Prado in Madrid, Spain.

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