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The Garden Of Earthly Delights And The Haywain Triptych

1984 words - 8 pages

Sin and folly are two concepts that play a major role in the artwork of Hieronymus Bosch. Two of his most famous works The Garden of Earthly Delights and The Haywain Triptych both deal with sin and The Last Judgment is no exception. The significance of his use of sin and folly can be fully appreciated by examining and analyzing The Last Judgment. A very common theme in medieval and renaissance religious artwork, The Last Judgment “marks the final act of the long, turbulent history of mankind which began with the Fall of Adam and Eve and their expulsion from Eden.” 1 It is the supposed day when the dead shall rise from their graves and Christ shall come a second time to judge all men, ...view middle of the document...

”4 Bosch attempts to humanize the interpretation of the Last Judgment and minimizes the divine by making human themes the most central focus of the artwork. He achieves this by directing the viewer’s focus to various themes. For example, “in the foreground of the earthly landscape tortures of the most varied kinds are being carried out with complemented appliances and machines; in the background is the portrayal of a fiery landscape, and in the center, on a rocky island, is a melancholy figure, on his elbows (a depiction of the artist himself).” By doing this, Bosch has created some of his most powerful images in this panel. He seems to focus on the depiction of metamorphosis of one thing into another, as can be seen in the details of this central panel. In the center of this panel, an old woman with lizard-like feet is frying human remains, while two eggs (symbols of sexual creativity) are waiting to go in the frying pan. Behind, another monstrous creature a body turns on a spit and another body can be seen already prepared. On the right a beetle-like creature is dismembering another figure for the frying pan. Some of the punishments even correspond to the Seven Deadly Sins, which are famously depicted in a table of Bosch. Figure X depicts one example where demons are forcing an overweight man to drink more than he can bear, thus representing the sin of gluttony.
Tolnay states “this is truly hell's kitchen,”1 going on to say “there appears to be no limit to his visual imagination or any restraint in depicting it.”1
In the left panel, we see Paradise depicted with the creation of man and woman. Here, Bosch has set the scene to show the fall of Adam and Eve into temptation in the Garden of Eden by dividing the panel up into sections. From top to bottom the viewer can see Adam and Eve sitting in paradise, then consuming the forbidden fruit, and finally being driven into the real world by the angel Gabriel. Tolnay compares Bosch’s depiction of Eve to Michelangelo's composition in the Sistine Chapel, which was painted at about the same time, but finds the feeling in each work to be very different. 1 According to Tolnay, “Bosch had a strong sense of the actuality of hell fire, while Michelangelo placed strong emphasis on the human values in the story.” Bosch also depicts that actual temptation itself. Eve holds out the apple from the Tree of Knowledge to Adam, while a singularly unserpent-like, female creature holds out another. There is also an owl on a branch to the left which is used in many paintings of the time to depict evil. Perhaps the most interesting aspect of this panel is the upper portion, which represents Heaven. Swarming among the clouds are dozens of bug-like creatures that may seem out of place. However, these insect-like creatures are intended to represent a sin preceding that of Adam and Eve. This chaotic scene depicts the Expulsion of Lucifer and the Rebel Angels from Heaven by God who sits above them in an oculus of light. ...

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