Garden of Earthly Delights, 1500-1505
220 cm x 389 cm
Museo Nacional del Prado
I recently read an essay about one of Bosch's drawings which focused on the "Treeman" that you can see in the right panel of the Garden triptych. (Koerner. "Bosch's Equipment" Things that Talk) There is more than enough to keep one occupied engrossed in Bosch's incredible painting, but I recommend spending time with sections at a time. This is the triptych open, each of the panels with a different focus. The left, paradise, the right, hell, with the center lending the work its name, Garden of Earthly Delights. "Between paradise and hell, these delights are nothing more than allusions to sin, showing humankind dedicated to diverse worldly pleasures. There are clear and strongly erotic representations of lust, along with others, whose meanings are more enigmatic. The fleeting beauty of flowers and the sweetness of fruit transmit a message of fragility and the ephemeral character of happiness and enjoyment." (Prado entry) When the triptych is closed it shows through a grisaille view of the world during creation (the third day)
Bosch was one of the first artists that fascinated me as a kid. Admittedly I was intrigued by the strangeness, the grotesque and was psyched when I was able to see the work in person at the Prado when I was studying abroad. Now that I've learned a bit more, I hope to get the painting again some day. One of the things I was most curious about was the date of the painting, I was startled to see that it Bosch worked in the late 15th/early 16th century. I had no idea that a German painter then would produce such work (and Bosch was wholly unique in his time). Until then, the digital versions are pretty fantastic. Check out the masterpieces at the Prado on Google Earth! Just fly to Prado Museum Spain and click on Masterpieces.
This took me much longer than it should have because of, you guessed it, Google Earth!