Famous Friday // The Garden of Earthly Delights

Hieronymus Bosch, The Garden of Earthly Delights, oil on panel, 1503-1515, 7′ 3″ x 12′ 9″. Location: Museo del Prado.

Oh, how I love Spain, and Madrid especially. Between the food and the museums alone, I would gladly live in Madrid for the rest of my life. One of the greatest museums of European art, Museo del Prado, is found in Madrid. The Prado is home to a wide variety of art dating from the 12th century to the early 20th century, including the work that’s featured in today’s Famous Friday – The Garden of Earthly Delights. 

The triptych is meant to be read like a book, from right to left. The meaning of each panel is directly tied to the panel proceeding and following it, creating a cohesive narrative within the triptych. The leftmost panel depicts God, who is introducing Adam to Eve. They are standing in a lush green landscape and are surrounded by animals of all types.In the central panel, Adam and Eve are portrayed in the garden of which the work was named after. A myriad of different things is happening in the central panel. We see various nude figures participating in romantic activities, while some figures are displayed inside of eggs or shells. The scene depicts a greedy consumption of all of the delights of the garden. The rightmost panel is enshrouded in black. Humans are huddled together anticipating the torture that is yet to come.

The exact meaning of The Garden of Earthly Delights is not known. The work was perhaps a personal altarpiece that was used as a devotion to then-contemporary conservative Christian views on lust and sin. The work could potentially warn against the perils of what would happen to men if they were to go against the word of God and lead a life full of sin.

Here is an awesome project that goes really in depth into the work.

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