The 'Garden of earthly delights'. Oil painting after Hieronymus Bosch.
- Bosch, Hieronymus, -1516
- [between 1500 and 1599]
Selected images from this work
About this work
The composition has been referred to by many different names ("El tráfago del mundo", "Die Weltlust", "De tuin der lusten", "The garden of earthly delights" etc.). The subject of the picture is problematic, but most scholars interpret it as a hostile view of the life devoted to the pleasure of the senses. The first author to leave a specific description of Bosch's composition, Fray José de Siguenza, referred to it in 1605 as "el quadro del madroño" (the picture of the strawberry), interpreting the gigantic strawberry near the centre as a typically transient object of the senses of smell and taste. E.H. Gombrich refined this interpretation by suggesting that the people depicted are intended to be those who lived before the Flood: among other reasons for this identification, a popular mediaeval text, the Historia scholastica of Peter Comestor (twelfth century) states that the earth was less fertile after the Flood than before, when fruit and flowers had grown to enormous sizes (as in Bosch's picture) and mankind had been vegetarian (Gombrich, op. cit.). Other interpretations have found alchemical, astrological or millenarian lore in the picture, while yet others localize it in a feature of Bosch's time, the outburst of moralistic mockery of the self-indulgent mob. See Vandenbroeck, op. cit.
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