The art work The Garden of Earthly Delights by Herman Bosch is a painting created approximately 1500 CE. As a conversation piece, it is meant to create discussion among various individuals. With this knowledge it mind, I was prepared to find a painting that would be quite colorful with a large amount of aspects upon which one may comment. I was not disappointed by this when I took some time to view the work.
I was first struck by the large amount of “moments” in the painting. I believe this could be the only way to describe my initial reaction. When I first looked at it, it appeared as if many different experiences were happening for the characters in the painting. In this way, I believe these different experiences all created individuals “moments” for the characters in the work; however, all of these different snapshots of time then were melded together to create a larger context. I must admit that the whiteness of the figures and their perfect forms made it appear as if ancient Greek and Roman marble statues had come to life and were having a garden party. It also struck me that the characters were mostly white with only a few individuals of color.
It did strike me as interesting that wild animals, such as elephants and giraffes, existed in such harmony with the people. They were using a watering hole as they would in nature. Of course, then I realized that this would be how life was in the Garden of Eden. Men and animals did live in concert with each other. I then realized that my shock at this image reflected, sadly, upon how we live with each other (as man and beast) today. We do not share the earth equally.
The darkness of the third panel also struck me. It existed in such contrast to the loveliness of the other panels, in which perfectly formed humans lived with animals in harmony. I had no trouble imagining this as a damnation scene. It was, however, a bizarre one.