c. 1504; Triptych, plus shutters; Oil on panel; Central panel, 220 x 195 cm; Wings, 220 x 97 cm; Museo del Prado, Madrid
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.
Creation of the World
Outer wings (shutters), depicting the third day of creation (140 Kb)
Garden of Earthly Delights (Ecclesia's paradise)
Central panel (280 Kb)
The Earthly Paradise (Garden of Eden)
Left wing (180 Kb)
Right wing (180 Kb)
Detail from right wing (320 Kb)