Bosch's most famous and unconventional picture is The Garden of Earthly Delights (c.1500; Prado, Madrid) which, like most of his other ambitious works, is a large, 3-part altarpiece, called a triptych. This painting was probably made for the private enjoyment of a noble family. It is named for the luscious garden in the central panel, which is filled with cavorting nudes and giant birds and fruit. The triptych depicts the history of the world and the progression of sin. Beginning on the outside shutters with the creation of the world, the story progresses from Adam and Eve and original sin on the left panel to the torments of hell, a dark, icy, yet fiery nightmarish vision, on the right. The Garden of Delights in the center illustrates a world deeply engaged in sinful pleasures.
In reference to astrological alignments at the time this was painted, a lot of the instruments of torture are also musical instruments.
Photographs by Mark Harden.
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