Garden of Earthly Delights
In hell all eroticism is lost, the mortals cover their genitals and breasts out of shame.
All residents of the Garden of Earthly Delights have lived immodestly on the center panel and are now being punished terribly in hell on the right panel. Sinners are punished, musical instruments become instruments of torment, and people are attacked, tortured or eaten by devils and monsters.
The paradox of the utopian love paradise in the garden and the apotheosis of sinfulness in hell could not be depicted more extreme than in this triptych by Bosch.
With this ultra-controversial battle, he committed historical high treason to the papal clergy, but immortalized the tyranny of the church in the Middle Ages in our Western visual literature.
The full hell decor on the right panel is set at night. Cold coloring and frozen waterways reinforce the chilling retaliation policy of our faith. Cities burn in the background, wars rage in the landscape and mutated animals feed on human flesh.
A Devil's Poop Chair
The bird-headed blue ‘poop chair devil’ devours a sinner from whose anus birds, smoke and fire come.
An owl also figures in hell. He strikes like a demon from a nightmare. He sits on a giant poop chair with a pot on his head and jars as shoes. Human bodies are eaten and immediately pooped out again. Straight into the sewer.
In reality, the luxury poop chair that Bosch painted here was only for the upper classes of society. The common people put their needs directly into the sewer.
The head of the monster is Bosch’s self-portrait.
This strange creature with its human face seems to bend over. The shoulders turn into tree-like legs with protruding branches. The tree man balances on two small boats in which a number of people are hiding. In the inn inside the hull, a woman pours beer from a barrel. A crossbow hangs from a branch. A man is sitting on a giant pad, a demonic sign.
A tree bag is on the head of the tree man, the instrument symbolizes of laziness and laziness. A smaller one adorns the flag on its shell-like back. Did the Devil’s Inn customers go to hell because of their laziness and booze?
A waste of music
Music was forbidden, anyone who got caught while practicing an instrument was tortured with the same toy.
The only problem with ecclesiastical music in the very early Middle Ages is that music was forbidden in the church. There was no intention of singing in the church, and instruments in the church were completely out of the question.
The damned undergo the most terrible punishments in hell. Musical instruments such as a hurdy-gurdy, a mandolin and a harp have been turned into torture devices.
With the Black Death, city fires, famine and the stake, death lurked everywhere.
In the Middle Ages, on the day of his death, man assumed that he had to account for his past life.
Depending on the sins committed, it was determined how long his soul should remain in purgatory. Life is short, but eternity was really an eternity in hell in the Middle Ages.
The spoonbill with its spatula-shaped long bird’s beak is reminiscent of the mask of a plague doctor.
The beaky mask was then filled with herbs and spices to purify the air and defuse plague fumes.
What worked in any case was that the extremely long nose of the plague mask created a certain distance from the plague sufferer and thus prevented contamination.
People love animals, pets are caressed more often than women or men. Only that one spot remains untouched. Usually at least …
The devilish demons in Bosch’s hell are a mocking reflection of the demigods of ancient times. These half human, half animal creatures were created after sexual relations between humans and animals.
A serious sin for the Church was sex that no children could produce, such as sodomy, pedophilia, sex with someone of the same sex, masturbation and bestiality.
Those who indulged in unnatural sex, if caught, could almost always count on death: on the gallows, decapitated, drowned, or on the stake.
The church saw lust as a sin and described what was not allowed: “Sex should not be practiced during the day or naked.”
“Sex is only intended to father children and should only be practiced in a missionary position.”
“If a man masturbates, he shouldn’t have intercourse for four days. If a boy does it often, he must fast for 20 days or be spanked. “
“Whoever commits fornication with an effeminate man, other men or an animal must fast for ten years.”
“Whoever pours out his seed in the mouth has committed the worst sin and must atone for the rest of his life.”
“On Sunday, the Lord’s day, sex is out of the question.”
“In the month before Christmas, love was not to be made.”
“Abstinence was required for 60 days around Easter.”
“Sex was not allowed on all Saints’ days.”
Prostitution was a legal and regulated enterprise in many places in Europe.
The naked woman with the dice on her head is characterized as a whore by the candle and the jar in her hand.
While the church considered pay sex a sin, there was a policy of tolerance. Because in the brothel, a man was able to release his sexual energy, preventing worse sins such as masturbation and homosexuality. Many brothels were run by the city council and were an important source of urban income.
Prostitutes had to wear a red cap as a sign, unofficial prostitution that did not bring in money was banned. The whores were allowed to work all year round, except on public holidays and Easter week. Brothels had to guarantee shelter and shelter for the women, and the prostitutes had to bathe every week.
What if a priest ...
In a fit of desire, monks, priests and nuns sometimes wanted to indulge in carnal activities.
Monks and nuns had taken a vow of chastity, but forbidden lusts were a problem for the church throughout the Middle Ages and are overlooked because priests pay better.
Priests did it with female parishioners or co-workers, or blasted boys. Nuns did it with nuns – or monks disguised as nuns with suspicious bulges in their habit.
Virtually every priest had a resident mistress who supposedly acted only as his housekeeper. When the maid died, the parish immediately appointed a replacement to protect her own women and children in the area.
Henry III of Nassau
The Garden of Earthly Delights has the shape of an altarpiece as a triptych, but has never hung in a church, it was too decadent for that.
It was Henry III of Nassau who ordered the work from Bosch to hang in his palace on the Mont des Arts in Brussels. We are situated around 1480, in the era of the perverted spectacle culture of the Burgundian Court.
Hendrik was a flamboyant man who previously despised the faith, which was remarkable for a count from the Flemish of that time. He mainly lived in his palace where there was a bed that could accommodate up to 50 people. With his high libido, he fathered several bastard children with different mistresses.
So it was probably the sexist visions of mischievous Hendrik that were illustrated by Bosch in the famous triptych that was to provide excitement and stimulation in the corridors of his festive temple on the highest mountain in Brussels.
Hendrik was a member of the Order of the Golden Fleece and was convicted there three times for debauched behavior.
Pious of Heresy
Was the Garden of Earthly Delights noble pornography avant la lettre, or a sarcastic irony on the theological dictatorship of the church, it remains an eternal discussion among art historians.
The interpretations of the Garden of Earthly Delights range from conventional Christian to pagan heresy. Bosch’s paintings can indeed be read as one great judgment of a devout Christian against heresy, but just as much as a secret code for heresy.
The fact that the central panel of the triptych with its erotic scenes in a tantric Garden of Delights stimulates almost every viewer to the depths of his abdomen is characteristic of the naturally sexual man.
The scene of the two naked primeval men Adam and Eve without fig leaves for their genders gave many mortals a wet dream for the past 2000 years.
After all, it embodies the first sex clip from an infinite number of episodes since our primary existence.
Be that as it may, one thing is certain: Bosch’s paintings ask for a closer look if you want to see the forest through the trees.
How on earth could hell cause sexual arousal?
In the Middle Ages, such visual literature was only visible to a select audience of the highest status. There are several testimonials that sleeping quarters and seaside resorts in the Burgundian palaces were adorned with erotic scenes.
The ordinary people never saw these paintings and did not even know about the existence of such caricatural language. At most the maid could see such works, for her it was even a privilege and enjoyable sex to be raped by a man of nobility.
The rural people’s moral indignation was caused by the aristocracy through ferocious sex, SM, mistreatment and abuse, often resulting in the death of the poor victim. Many books have been published about the uncontrollable urges, sexual torture, torture and experiments in the early Renaissance. The sexual revolution in Flanders around 1500 brought with it a lot of immoral literature about pleasure as ‘mortal sin’.
Cutting off one or both ears was a typical thief punishment. This mutilation made it easy to recognize a thief.
The two huge ears are held together by an arrow. A knife is clamped in between. Together they leave a trail of destruction through the hell of Bosch.
The ominous ears seem to be a war machine and at the same time evoke thoughts of the male genital organ.
On the knife is a letter ‘B’, the monogram of the painter.
Museo del Prado
The Garden of Earthly Delights is at its best in Madrid. The authentic painting can be admired in the Prado Museum.
Bosch is the pride of the Netherlands, and you would expect that the original version of the Garden of Earthly Delights would hang in the Jheronimus Bosch Art Center in Den Bosch? Unfortunately, there is only a replica. This is because the Netherlands was occupied by Spain at the time. As a result, many Bosch works of art ended up in various places in Spain and Portugal.
Many Spaniards even see the Bushman as a Spaniard. The Catalans don’t even know who you are talking about when you mention the name ‘Bosch’. They know him there as ‘El Bosco’. Bosch’s Spanish equivalent, boscesca, also means crazy. But Bosch will always remain a Dutchman.
Garden of Delights
Let yourself be seduced and go out in the virtual Garden of Earthly Delights…
The famous artwork by Jheronimus Bosch can now be viewed digitally up close. The transmedia makeover consists of a virtual reality film and a documentary with audio, voice over and music.
The fifteenth-century triptych is full of details that you can only really see when you can dive into the pores of the painting. This virtual tour where you can wander freely in Bosch’s vibrant universe was made in honor of his five hundredth anniversary in 2016.
Garden of Delights
Pay special attention to the many details in the background that you hardly see in the original work.
Thanks to the expertise of Robert Erdmann, Professor of Visualizing Art History and Senior Scientist at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, the authentic triptych of the Garden of Earthly Delights is digital heritage. You can zoom in up to the megapixel height.