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Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Painting of the Month (28) April 2012: Hieronymus Bosch

The Garden of Earthly Delights by Hieronymus Bosch. Painted about 1490 to 1510
The Garden of Earthly Delights is a Triptych which means a three-panelled work, usually made as an altarpiece but in this case the vivid sexual nature of the painting means it probably was made for a private patron. The two outside panels fold in so it can be closed and this one has a picture of the Earth being created by God only seen when it is closed.
Triptychs are generally 'read' from left to right. The left-hand panel depicts God introducing Adam to Eve. The square central panel shows the Earthly delights being enjoyed, frequently through the medium of alarming insertions! (see Detail 1, below.) The right-hand panel is clearly meant to represent Hell. It's easy to see the message as a warning against moral sin during one's lifetime and the punishment to come for misdeeds to be meted out in the afterlife. As the majority of the population could not read, graphic illustration was often the way of telling a story as with the telling of Bible stories via the stained-glass windows of a church.
Detail 1

Detail 2
The picture above, detail 2, is from the representation of Hell. You can see that the central character seems to have an arrow sticking out of his back-side. This forms a link with the other detail; I think Mr Bosch had some kind of obsession with....well, you know what I mean. 
The picture is too large to be seen properly here but there are plenty of larger-scale images on the Internet. It's an extremely interesting picture in many ways. The historical context, the imaginative detail and, not least, the moral message are very evident.


Alicia said...

It's an amazing piece; I'll always have a soft spot for it because my mother wrote her Master's thesis about it. Nonetheless, I would not want it hanging in my living room.

joanne said...

It is an amazing and intricate piece... A viewer can't help but see something different every time he/she looks at it, which is interesting in itself, perhaps revealing just as much about the inner workings of the artist and the time he lived, as about the audience viewing it and the time in which they live...

Interpretations of this piece are so fascinating to read ! Great choice for your series, and particularly as a springtime selection ! :)

bazza said...

Alicia: Now I know where your keen brain comes from!
No, it's not really the kind of thing one would want in the home but fascinating non the less.

bazza said...

joanne: There is plenty to see. I would suggest that most works of art reflect the times in which they were created and are often regarded as secondary sources of historical evidence.
I never thought of this as a springtime piece; I could have chosen something much more appropriate I suppose! For example, look at this beautiful triptych.

John said...

Hi Bazza,
An amazing piece of work, not quite sure the enjoyment of having flowers up your bum, but it takes all sorts!
The last panel reminds me of Dali, am I wrong in this, as in all else?
Thanks for illuminating my art knowledge once more.

bazza said...

John: You can not be 'wrong' about what a piece of art reminds you of. In fact, you are quite correct anyway! It is generally asserted that Dali invented surrealism, (Dreamlike sequences inspired by the then-current interest in Freud's work). However, Bosch had actually invented it over 400 years earlier, although he didn't know it at the time.
You are a clever chap and full of insight!

Anonymous said...

The rather fabulous Sir Tom Eagerly says:
Bazza my old pal, the trouble with today's world is that there isn't nearly enough debauchery in it. I'll take my chance that there is no Hell waiting for me and carry on enjoying my Earthly Delights. I could be wrong of course but it's a long shot. I'll take my chances.
I'll drink to it anyway. Bottoms up, old boy (I say, How appropriate!)

bazza said...

Sir Tom: I think some of your ancestors are depicted in the painting! The mantle has been passed to you and you are boldly carrying it forward. Have you, by any chance, reproduced yourself so that future generations may benefit from your genes?

Dixie@dcrelief said...

Bloody scary! All those milky white bodies running, hunching, erm; no orafice is safe!! I did see a couple 'little' things I consider 'special'; will have to let you know if they work!!
Off to the florist; see you later; thanks bazza :)

bazza said...

Dixie: Calm down, calm down! Don't get holly or thorny roses from the florist and have a lovely Easter.

joanne fox said...

Goodness - that would give me nightmares! Did Bosch wear out his imagination on weird paintings, and go into making household appliances for a break? My kettle and washer are both Bosch, There's no naked people on them though.

Happy Easter.

A Zigzag Road

bazza said...

Hello Joanne, Happy Easter to you!
I would presume that the painting was intended to give one nightmares. I don't believe Hieronymous Bosch got into the kitchen appliance business but I understand his cousin Hotpoint did quite well.

klahanie said...

Ah bazza,
I say, old chap, rather a lot of visual delights, although I think the first image is a tad busy and gave me a touch of headache.
We wont mention the flower up the posterior.
Have a lovely Easter.

David said...

Dear bazza,
I do like a bit of Bosch, but as some others have commented, I wouldn't want it necessarily hanging in my living room!
Very Best Wishes,

bazza said...

Gary: At first I wasn't sure if the 'flower up the posterior' was meant to be an Earthly or a Hellish delight! Each to his own I suppose. I think Sir Tom likes the images and approves of the behaviour ;-)

bazza said...

David. Not really a domestic piece is it? It's the kind of thing that is morbidly fascinating and certainly amusing although it's original intention must have been to scare sinners into changing their wicked ways.