Teacher resources and professional development across the curriculum

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2 / Dreams and Visions

Garden of Earthly Delights
Garden of Earthly Delights
Artist / Origin Hieronymus Bosch (Netherlandish, ca. 1450–1516)
Region: Europe
Date ca. 1500–1505
Material Oil on wood panel
Medium: Painting
Dimensions (Central Panel) H: 86 5/8 in. (220 cm.), W: 79 ¾ in. (195 cm.); (Side Panels) H: 86 5/8 in. (220 cm.), W: 38 1/8 in. (97 cm.) (each)
Location Museo del Prado, Madrid, Spain
Credit Courtesy of Art Resource, NY/Photo by Erich Lessing

expert perspective

Whitney ChadwickProfessor Emerita of Art History, San Francisco State University

Garden of Earthly Delights

» Hieronymus Bosch (Netherlandish, ca. 1450–1516)

expert perspective

Whitney Chadwick Whitney Chadwick Professor Emerita of Art History, San Francisco State University

In the first Surrealist manifesto, Breton identifies a history of Surrealism that he says goes way back, deep into history. But he actually names names in the manifesto too.

In the artistic vein, he takes us back to the Renaissance; he mentions Hieronymus Bosch and the great Garden of Earthly Delights. Bosch was a Flemish painter of the late fifteenth, early sixteenth century. [He] produced this triptych that looks like an altarpiece that contains hundreds of figures in states of sexual excess, nudity, playfulness, horror, pain, fear. It really takes us sort of through the human condition in an imagery that’s difficult to describe, difficult to characterize, and has proved actually resistant, for much of history, resistant to interpretation. No one can adequately and fully account for Bosch’s intentions in this painting, although there are many theories and many of them have to do with religious beliefs, sex, sex, sex, alchemical and magical theories and practices—hard to decipher.” 


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