Art History - The Garden of Earthly Delights, Hieronymus Bosch

I want to start a new series incorporating some art education on my blog. I am studying to receive my BFA in Art Education, and I am making this space into a place for art history, art experience, and learning about art theory and art making. I want my curriculum to be heavily based in art history and observation. Each week, I will talk about a piece of art from prehistory to the modern era and talk about some elements that can influence your art process.

The Garden of Earthly Delights, painted by Hieronymus Bosch between 1503 and 1515. This painting can teach many things about the elements and principles of art as well as encouraging the focus on narrative. Here are my three takeaways from The Garden of Earthly Delights:

  1. Use of color - Bosch uses a complimentary analogous color scheme effectively in this piece which creates a sense of balance throughout. The background of the piece is predominantly blues and greens which contrast beautifully with the muted, warm tints of the human figures as well as the pops of red that give the piece of sense of rhythm, which helps to lead the viewers eye around the piece.
  2. Repetition and rhythm - The repetitive forms of the bodies gives the piece a rhythm that the eye can follow around the work. The use of implied line and perspective also helps guide the eye through the work. There is a lot to take in in this painting, but the use of repetition to create movement as well as resting places for the eye, helps the viewer to "read" the visual story.
  3. Narrative - Many art historians believe that the triptych of The Garden of Earthly Delights is meant to be read from left to right, telling the story of the creation of Eve, humanities' fall from grace, and their eventual punishment. Art historians have conflicting interpretations of the center panel, some feel it depicts a sinful explosion while others feel it is the representation of the innocence of humanity before the Fall. Either way, Bosch is giving his viewer a message and something to contemplate. The visual language is rich with storytelling vignettes that portray a message to the viewer. Each part of the triptych can be seen as its' own story, broken down into many smaller stories, or viewed as a whole.

What other elements do you see at work here? I would love to know what artistic takeaways or inspiration you glean from Bosch's Garden. I am excited to kick off this series with my favorite artist and painting and am looking forward to bringing you more.