Thursday, February 23, 2012


The Garden of Earthly Delights is a painting by Hieronymus Bosch from around 1505. To me, Bosch seemed to be really ahead of his time because this triptych contains some of the most surreal symbolism in High Renaissance art. The piece shows three panels, each representing a state of one’s immortal soul. The first panel on the left depicts the beginning of life. Some believe that the left panel represents the Garden of Eden, and the original sin that came with it. You can see the animals in the background fighting, almost as if it is foreshadowing the doom to come. The middle panel shows a wide array of nude people indulging in several sinful acts. This panel also has a huge cluster of symbolism. Whether the figures are practicing sexual performances or partaking in other sinful acts, it is clear that this panel is trying to portray the fall of man to evil wickedness. The last panel in the triptych is Bosch’s interpretation of hell. Some art historians believe that Bosch hid the 7 deadly sins within this panel in a symbolic manner. In this section, animals are depicted torturing and mutilating humans, which might represent the natural evil that is in our world. One could honestly go on all day reading into the symbolism in this painting. It’s almost like a Where’s Waldo in the sense that every time you look at it, you notice something new.


  1. I see various nationalities in this piece. This is an interesting piece because it seems to depict all of mankind underscoring "Beginning and End."

  2. Although I am no expert on Bosch, and I mean by ANY means, I find his work fascinating. There's a modern artist I'm reminded of. Although their styles and content differ, the same idea of having a mess of different symbols and images is prevalent throughout his work.

    Check him out at

  3. I like how you related it to where's Waldo because it so loaded with various imagery it's almost difficult to cipher through to find specific content.