Heaven, Hell and 'The Garden of Earthly Delights'

​Explore the hidden wonders of Dutch painter Hieronymus Bosch’s masterpiece.

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Posted in , Apr 19, 2016

Detail of birds from the painting, The Garden of Earthly Delights, by Hieronymus Bosch, Museo del Prado.

Around the year 1500, a middle-aged Dutch painter created a three-paneled artwork depicting the corruption, and ultimate downfall, of humankind. Dubbed “The Garden of Earthly Delights,” Hieronymus Bosch’s artwork shows the Garden of Eden, the sins of men on Earth, and a terrifying fate in purgatory. To see it, you’ll have to go to Museo del Prado in Madrid… or you can check it out online thanks to the New Yorker magazine and NTR, the Dutch public broadcasting service.

It’s hard to know where to look first, the painting is so rich with imagery—both beautiful and bizarre. Compare the cute, happy bunnies by Eve’s feet in the first panel, with the horrifying, humanoid rabbit in the last. The symbol for “Be fruitful and multiply” has transformed into a demonic torturer.

Garden of Earthly Delights by Hieronymus Bosch, Museo del Prado

Kind of makes you want to be good, doesn’t it? Even after more than 500 years, these brushstrokes still have the power to move our conscience and stir our soul. Take some time to explore the painting and discover what it means to you.

Has a work of art ever inspired your faith? Has your faith inspired you to create a work of art? Share the paintings, sculptures and other incredible creations that have influenced you!

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