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Vanity in the Garden of Earthly Delights (Hieronymus Bosch)

Here’s an interesting detail from Hieronymus Bosch’s Garden of Earthly Delights:

Detail, Hieronymus Bosch Garden of Earthly Delights, 1503-1504

Bosch’s hell forces its inhabitants to overindulge in their vices. For example, this woman has to stare into a mirror for eternity; a punishment for the sin of vanity. And her gaze falls upon an interestingly placed mirror, with her reflection eternally affixed to the ass of a demon.

Hieronymus Bosch Garden of Earthly Delights, 1503-1504

Bosch’s triptych is most commonly read as a warning about life’s temptations and depicts Adam and Eve in a paradise that has already been corrupted (monstrous hybrid animals wander the fields), men and women frolicking lasciviously through what is possible a pre-flood world, and sinners being tortured in hell.

Sins of the body are pretty heavily emphasized here, whether through a provocative glance shared between Adam and Eve or through a sow dressed as a nun beating a lustful man. It’s a surreal and interesting look at the Protestant Reformation’s view on sin.

Here’s a few more details I personally enjoyed:

Yes, this is a unicorn. Unicorns and virgins (virgin women, rather) were often paired together, indicating that Eden is not yet fully corrupted by the sins of the flesh.

A man being punished for his lustful life by a sow dressed as a nun.

The mouth of hell. Satan consumes and excretes sinners.

This nude couple resides within a cracked glass sphere, indicating the fragility of their passion.

For more information on symbolism in this piece (Ungodly amounts!) I would recommend checking out its Wikipedia page.  It’s actually pretty fleshed out!

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