Skip to main content

Renaissance Top 48: Gerden of Earthly Delights

Identification

The Garden of Earthly Delights by Hieronymus Bosch was created in 1505-1510. It was created on a wood Triptych with oil. It is 7 feet high 12 feet wide and was created in Flanders. 

Context

The Garden of Earthly Delights was created in 1505-1510. It was created in a time of controversy, which is very apparent in the painting. It was a time for scientific discovery and world exploration but also a time of death and religious conflict. Artists were having a very hard time being religious while also discovering all of these knew ideas. This brought about the theme of religious ideas presented in Secular settings. The setting of this painting is not a typical one of the Last Judgment, and the events happening are not typical of the scene either, however the ideals of the Last Judgment are clearly there. 

Content

In the Garden of Earthly Delights there are three scenes. In the left Panel there are pink fountains, which look like machines of chemistry. This is to show G-d as a mad scientist who used chemistry to create Adam and Eve. G-d the father is shown giving Eve to Adam, this is his greatest achievement so it is portrayed in this panel. They are in the Garden of Eden portrayed with an array of fanciful and unusual animals.

In the middle panel there is a lot of chaos. There are naked figures embracing in sexual poses. Some appear inside shells. There are a lot of birds and strawberries, which are images of fertility, which has to do with the sin of lust because if you commit this sin you may become pregnant.

In the right panel there is a representation of the Hell. Creatures devour people and others are strung on musical instruments. A gambler is nailed to his gambling table, a monster embraces a girl while toads bite her, and there is a sea of inky darkness envelops these scenes. This is what shows us this scene is of the Last Judgment, however it is not like any Last Judgment Scene we have ever seen. Bosch even puts himself in the middle of this scene. 

Form

The Garden of Earthly Delights was an oil painting on wood. This oil allowed Bosh to easily mix colors and paint very finely. There was an immense amount of detail put into this painting. It embodies the Renaissance theme of using immense detail to make the work look as if it was not painted. This painting was on a triptych which was commonly an altar piece and used for religious functions, however this piece of art was for private use. He decided to use a triptych in order to clearly display three scenes. There is no linear perspective or atmospheric perspective, but in each panel there is a central axis that your eyes draw to. The colors he uses are not commonly seen. He uses a lot of pink and light green. 

Function

The Garden of Earthly Delights was created for secular commission for private use by Henry III of Nassau Netherlands for his meeting room. A lot of people would see it because of all the people who entered this room, but it is clearly not something created for a church. In creating this, Bosch wanted to warn his viewers about the sin of lust. He is saying that if you undergo this sin then you will go to hell. However, there are a lot of interpretations of the function of this art so there is no universal meaning.