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Bosch, Hieronymus (1450-1516)
The Garden of Earthly Delights (right panel)Date: 1503-1504
Movement: Renaissance (Northern)
Technique: Oil on wood
Museum: Museo del Prado
The Garden of Earthly Delights is a triptych painted by the early Netherlandish master Hieronymus Bosch (c. 1450â€“1516), housed in the Museo del Prado in Madrid since 1939. Dating from between 1490 and 1510, when Bosch was about 40 or 50 years old, it is his best-known and most ambitious work. The masterpiece reveals the artist at the height of his powers; in no other painting does he achieve such complexity of meaning or such vivid imagery. It depicts several Biblical scenes on a grand scale and as a "true triptych", as defined by Hans Belting, was perhaps intended to illustrate the history of mankind according to medieval Christian doctrine.
The right panel (220 Ă— 97.5 cm, 87 Ă— 38.4 in) illustrates Hell, the setting of a number of Bosch paintings. Bosch depicts a world in which humans have succumbed to the temptations of the devil and reap eternal damnation. The tone of this final panel strikes a harsh contrast to those preceding it. The scene is set at night, and the natural beauty that adorned the earlier panels is noticeably absent. Compared to the warmth of the center panel, the right wing possesses a chilling quality â€” rendered through cold colourisation and frozen waterways â€” and presents a tableau that has shifted from the paradise of the center image to a spectacle of cruel torture and retribution. In a single, densely detailed scene, the viewer is made witness to cities on fire in the background; war, torture chambers, infernal taverns, and demons in the midground; and mutated animals feeding on human flesh in the foreground. The nakedness of the human figures has lost all its eroticism, and many now attempt to cover their genitalia and breasts with their hands.
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