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Garden of Earthly Delights

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Garden of Earthly Delights (Triptych) - Hieronoymus Bosch

On the front outer two panels is a globe of Creation of the World. In it there is what looks like plants, mountains,etc. On the upper left hand corner there is what appears to be a small man. Perhaps this could be God himself peering down as the earth is being created?
On the first of the inner panels (when looking from left to right) is a peaceful scene showing God bringing life to Eve and Adam. Adam and Eve, while looking at each, other are not touching in the image. Possibly to imply that this is a time before sin. Another eye-catching piece within this panel is the pink fountain with an owl in the center. Owls are sometimes used to symbolize wisdom, since God is supposed to be wise.
The central panel The Garden of Earthly Delights is a lot more busy, and the first thing I see is that physical contact and emotion between humans is taking place, unlike the first panel, which indicates that sin is being brought into the picture. To me this panel represents the free spirited lifestyle that humans have been known to live throughout history.
The third panel is Hell. It displays people being tortured for their sins that were displayed in the second panel. The bird like creature eating sinners and then disposing of them down a hole can be seen as a symbol as the loss of life. Around the hole in which the bird is disposing of the sinners is a man being force to puke up his food, a symbol for man taking advantage of the precious food god has provided them. There is also another body across from him defecating coins, a symbol of greed. In short this panel is full of people being punished for their earthly sins.
After reading many art critics views on this very debated piece of art; I got the impression that the majority believe the triptych portrays the creation of the earth, introduction of mankind, the greedy lifestyle of mankind, to the betrayal of God’s intentions with a scene from hell. However, this seemed to be the one and only sure similarity the majority of critics shared. Every critic has their own interpretation of the symbolism Bosch displayed throughout the “Garden of Earthly Delights” and to me this is what makes this piece of art so intriguing today.

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