By: Kelsey Chandler
(Image Courtesy of Wikipedia)
My favorite piece from this Unit is The Garden of Earthly Delights by Hieronymus Bosch. It was created between 1490 and 1510 when Bosch was around 40 or 50 years old (Wikipedia). The work still exists today and is displayed in Museo del Prado in Madrid, Spain where it has been since1939 (Wikipedia). It appears to still be a good condition. I first saw this painting in my art class in the Fall of 2010 in our textbook, The Power of Art 2nd Edition by Richard L. Lewis and Susan I. Lewis. I saw this work again in our current textbook, The Western Humanities 7th Edition by Matthews, Platt, and Noble.
The work itself is actually a three part altarpiece called triptych (Pioch). The fact that it is a triptych means that there is on large panel in the middle with one panel on each side and are both half the size of the center panel so that it can close and cover the center. With so many aspects to this one work, you can break it down into four separate pieces: The left panel, the center panel, the right panel, and the outer view when the panels are closed. The triptych tells a story starting on the outside. The first piece to look at would be the outer view.
The next piece of the story is the Left Panel. At the top of the paper you can see how the left panel begins with Adam and Eve. The picture is simple in its beauty and shows God with his two creations. The surroundings are simple and beautiful. Everything is fresh and new and things seem relatively simple. In the center picture, things progress to the sinful nature of people. There are nude co-eds participating in sinful sexual desires with each other as well as some creatures too. The third and far right panel shows the consequences of the center panel: Hell. The images are quiet horrendous. Buildings are burning, people are now ashamed of their nakedness, there appear to be monsters, and people are dying. Overall the progression from Creation, to sin, to Hell is both beautiful and terrifying.
One thing I noticed in the painting is the use of color to convey feelings. The outside, the Earth and Creation, are very simple and understated. The right panel about Adam and Eve is relatively simple as well, but does show more color and liveliness. The center panel, the sinful one, is full of vivid color which indicates the allure of sinful nature. Finally, the Hellacious right panel is depicted using dark colors with a lot of shading which sets the mood of gloom and death. Bosch’s use of color really helped to set the tone of each individual panel to fit the message it was presenting.
I believe the focal are is the Center panel. Not only is it the largest and most colourful, I believe there is also a slightly hidden meaning behind it too. Instantly your eye is drawn to all of the people and their various activities. They seem to be having fun and very much enjoying themselves. This could also be hinting that sin looks attractive and it may even seem fun. The fact that people are enjoying themselves entices you to want to be as happy as them, even if that means sinning which can often happen in real life situations.
Bosch successfully created a multi-dimensional painting with his use of Deep Space. You can look at all of the panels and feel a sense of depth. He created this depth by making the images in the foreground much larger than the images in the background. This alludes to a larger, more open space. Another aspect indicative of his use of Deep Space is the mountains in the background. They are kind of blurry and do not have a defined shape which hints at that fact that they are very far into the distance. This is especially evident in the Center Panel.
The fact that there are, in essence, three separate pictures positioned next to each other bring up the need of Repetition to ensure cohesiveness to the piece as a whole. Bosch creates a harmony and rhythm within the three pieces mainly by the use of scale. In all of the panels the people maintain the same size and scale proportions. Consider if the people in the foreground of the center panel were twice the size of those in the left panel; the piece would feel unbalanced and unproportional. Also, he uses some of the same objects in the three panels and modifies them slightly to fit to the situation and panel.
In the end, all of the components of The Garden of Earthly Delights combine to create a moving reaction within the viewer. The painting in fact lets us view our past, our present, and our potential future if we continue with our sinful ways. I guess that in a way the triptych is a prophesy as well. I think that the painting is so popular and evokes such a powerful response because of the truth behind it all. The Garden of Earthly Delights is one of the most famous paintings of its era and will continue to be so long as people continue to participate and be fascinated by sin.
Lewis, Richard and Susan I. Lewis. The Power of Art. 2nd ed. Austrailia:
Thomson/Wadsworth, 2009. Print.
Matthews, Roy T., F. DeWitt. Platt, and Thomas F.X. Noble. The Western Humanities. 7th ed.
New York: McGraw-Hill, 2010. Print.
Pioch, Nicolas. “WebMuseum:Bosch Hieronymus: The Garden of Earthly Delight.”
Ibiblio-The Public’s Library and Digital Archive. BMW Foundation and The WebMuseum. 14 Oct. 2002. Web. 9 Mar. 2011.<http://www.ibiblio.org/wm/paint/auth/bosch/delight/>
Wikipedia. “The Garden of Earthly Delights.” Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia
Foundation, Inc, 8 Mar. 201. Web 9 Mar 2011. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Garden_of_Earthly_Delights>.