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Hieronymus Bosch and "The Garden of Earthly Delights"


Bosch’s three-paneled masterpiece takes you on a wild ride from a tranquil Garden of Eden creation scene to a hedonistic central panel to a nightmarish Hell where those earthly delights are swapped for an eternity of appropriate punishments.

Complete Video Script

[124, Hieronymus Bosch, c. 1450–1516] Five hundred years ago, one Flemish painter, Hieronymus Bosch, took the Northern Renaissance in a direction that seems radical even today. His Garden of Earthly Delights — a three-paneled altarpiece, or triptych — shows the delights of the world and where those temptations lead. In Act One, man and woman are born innocent in the Garden of Eden, blessed by a kind God.

[125, The Garden of Earthly Delights, c. 1505, Hieronymus Bosch, Prado Museum, Madrid] But then, foolish people chase after earthly delights — a pursuit that is ultimately a vicious cycle. They're lured by the world's pleasures: eating…drinking…sex. Like the fleeting flavor of that fruit, strawberries everywhere symbolize how the delights of hedonism are soon gone. Two lovers are suspended in a bubble….

[126] …then, in the third panel, the bubble pops. The moral of the story: those party animals are heading straight to Hell…a burning, post-apocalyptic wasteland where sinners are led off to eternal torment. Every sinner gets an appropriate punishment: gluttons are themselves consumed over and over; good-time musicians are tortured by their own instruments; gamblers have their party forever crashed; and a lecher gets sexually harassed by a pig-faced nun. Amid it all a face peers out of this bizarre nightmare — a self-portrait of the artist: Bosch.