PRADO, Hieronymus Bosch

Audio File length: 2.51
English / USA Language: English / USA


Hall 56 is dedicated to the wonderful, whimsical world of Hieronymus Bosch, the Dutch painter who died at the beginning of the 1500s; you can admire his most important works in this room of the Prado Museum. You could stay here hours contemplating only his greatest works crowded with figures, where you'll constantly discover new surprises: the Adoration of the Magi, the Hay Wagon and especially the Garden of Earthly Delights, which is undoubtedly one of the most intriguing paintings of all of European art history.

As you can see, the Garden of Earthly Delights is a triptych painting, or a work that consists of three parts, and spans a total of more than four meters in width; there are surely few masterpieces in the history of art that will fascinate you and also rattle you as much as this one. We don't know the location this painting was meant for or who commissioned it, but above all we still aren't certain of its meaning: just think, even today critics are divided between those who consider the central scene an image of Eden and those who see it as a depiction of the human race indulging in sin. A thousand hypotheses have been advanced to include all the details of a painting that comprises a huge number of figures in bizarre and memorable landscapes.

The panel on the left shows the creation of Eve, which takes place in an Eden chock full of animals that are partly real and partly strange and fantastic creatures like those from the world of Harry Potter. The central panel which gives the triptych it's name will really leave you baffled, populated as it is by hundreds of naked human beings, animals, monsters, plants, and rocks with absurd sizes and shapes, starting with huge, deeply red strawberries and cherries. You might see it all as an enormous hallucination: strange animals, men that fly, rocks that move, trees that turn into objects, and water that can form structures. In this masterpiece, everything reveals a different and mysterious nature, and nothing is what it seems. Then it all ends in a nightmare: the right panel takes you to a dark and frightening hell where the devils torture the damned with huge musical instruments which have been transformed into instruments of torture.

Don't forget to also look at the back of the triptych, which depicts a striking black and white globe during the Creation.


FUN FACT: Bosch was the favorite painter of Charles V's son, the great King Philip II, who was a keen collector, like a modern-day fan! Even today Spain is the country with the largest number of works by the Dutch artist.


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