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The Garden of Earthly Delights

Museo del Prado, Madrid, Spain

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Hieronymus Bosch, 1515

Northern Renaissance
oil
panel
religious painting

By far the best known and most ambitious work, The Garden of Earthly Delights illustrates Bosch’s individual artistic style, containing the most vivid imagery and complexity of symbolic meaning. The triptych is generally thought to be a warning of the dangers of giving in to temptation, but has been subject to vast amounts of conjecture and scrutiny, and critics and historians are split in two directions. Whereas some believe that the middle panel, which depicts a fantastical world of nudes in sexual engagement, large fruits, and other suggestive elements, is simply an illustration of paradise lost, others believe that it is a moral warning, which will lead you to hell, as it is depicted in the third panel of the series. Although there are many contradictory explanations, it is generally thought to be a warning against lust, one of the seven deadly sins.

image of The Garden of Earthly Delights