The garden of earthly delights is vast. I can’t take it all in immediately. No one can. And so many delights seem like horrors. Is that like Life? Is one’s delight just another person’s horror?
The manacled blue flutist and the devil sitting on his night chair eating someone, rightfully frightened me as a child and that hasn’t changed. Is this Earth or Hell? I do not want either place.
The Garden of Earthly Delights is the modern title given to a triptych oil painting on oak panel painted by the Early Netherlandish master Hieronymus Bosch, between 1490 and 1510. It is kept at the Museo del Prado in Madrid.
The painting must be viewed at a much larger size than shown here to be appreciated, but in the detail at the top of this post, you can see a group of nude females from the center panel. The head of one female is adorned with two cherries—a symbol of pride. To her right, a male drinks lustfully from an organic vessel. Behind the group, a male carries a couple encased in a mussel shell.
Little is known of Bosch’s life or intentions. The symbolism is intricate. There have been many scholarly interpretations over the centuries. Modern interpretations still wonder if (particularly the triptych’s central panel) is meant to be a moral warning or a panorama of a paradise lost. Is this an admonition of worldly fleshy indulgence? Is it a warning on the perils of life’s temptations? Is it an evocation of ultimate sexual joy?
Joy is the furthest from what I feel looking at the painting. Earthly is also far from what I see. As a young person, I thought it depicted some kind of Hell.
Lost for 1800 years, she was found hiding on her home island of Milos. Without arms holding, her modesty sliding down her nude torso holds our modern gaze. She is cold in this Parisian coffin.
It was 200 years ago that a Greek farmer on the island of Milos found a statue. It was damaged but still beautiful.
Most people assume – and it is an assumption – that she is meant to be Venus/Aphrodite, the goddess of love, beauty, and fertility. She was sculpted around 130-100 BC. Some art historians believe she is the sea-goddess Amphitrite who was venerated on the island of Milos.
The statue was purchased by France for 1000 francs and now resides at the Louvre in Paris – found but still a long way from home.
days recently erased still beneath. It’s repentance.
It has a long life. It bleeds
through the new work, day, life
and haunts the wet, freshly painted present.
Picasso’s 1901 Blue Period painting The Blue Room under infrared imaging revealed another portrait underneath the room scene. This pentimento is a bearded man in formal wear wearing a number of rings on his fingers. Did Pablo run out of money for a new canvas, or did he regret what he had painted?