The Garden of Earthly Delights

Hieronymus Bosch, 1490 — 1500
Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid

If one had to compile a list of the Seven Wonders of Painting from ancient times to the present, Hieronymus Bosch’s masterpiece, known as The Garden of Earthly Delights, would undoubtedly be among them. And that is not only because the painting is a quintessentially unique world created by one of the most extraordinary Netherlandish masters. The allure of this largest of the Bosch triptychs is not least due to its cryptic nature.

The Garden of Earthly Delights is more profound and striking in its artistic significance than its witty, yet contradictory interpretations. Was Adam and Eve’s first date, shown in the left panel, planned as the beginning of a history of sin and doomed to infernal suffering? That is how most scholars read the message today. It is hard to believe, however, looking at the joyful and slightly humorous garden, that Bosch imagined pleasure as a crime that deserved punishment in hell. Commentators agree on one thing: that the triptych was a culmination of the painter’s reflections on the eternal questions of humanity: the meaning of life, the nature of good and evil, and the vanity of sensual pleasures.

Olena Zhivkova, Curator of Old Master Paintings, The Bohdan and Varvara Khanenko National Museum of Arts, Kyiv

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The Garden of Earthly Delights - An online interactive adventure

Wander through the painting and discover all details

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Video about the new installation of The Garden of Earthly Delights

Alejandro Vergara in 2020 (5 min)

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Jheronimus Bosch - Touched by the Devil

Documentary by Pieter Huystee about the landmark exhibition in 2016

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