The Garden Of Earthly Delights

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Hieronymous Bosch’s 16th century triptych, The Garden of Earthly Delights, is a heavily discussed image among scholars. Because of the obscure nature of the painting and its subjects, especially so in the context of the painting’s time period, interpretations and analyses of the image are widespread. Common interpretations of the piece include that the image is a symbolic warning against shame and sin, a warning against woman’s temptations, the rebirth of a joyous world, and the Garden as a ‘Paradise Lost’. In the 15th and 16th centuries, there were various controversies surrounding the papacy of the Catholic Church, as well as other matters of Catholic corruption, which would eventually lead to the reformation. Expectedly, an unsophisticated symbolic analysis of the painting may lead one to interpret the image as a representation of the ‘Final Judgment’, which is plausible given this context of Bosch’s time period. Because of religious conflict and turmoil, people were likely confused and fearful of literal apocalyptic consequences. A more sophisticated allegorical analysis of the piece is instead revealing of Bosch’s conceptual interpretation of the world and reality itself. The title suggests the piece contains ‘earthly delights’, yet the absence of any man-like items suggests that Bosch’s painting was instead metaphorically symbolic in its iconographic depictions. The center panel should thus be interpreted allegorically in order to decode Bosch’s conceptual
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