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The Garden of Earthly Delights

Hieronymus Bosch, c. 1500

Bosch’s most famous triptych is The Garden of Earthly Delights, noted for its complex imaginative and startling imagery. Bosch was one of the most influential Early Netherlandish painters and although his work often interpreted a Late Gothic religious sensibility, he is most noted for a radically individualized style. In this piece, his version of hell is very different from previous treatments of the subject and could be interpreted as the “hellish” world of an individual man’s own making. As art historian Joseph Leo Koerner writes, “the painting of everyday life was bound inextricably to what seems its polar opposite: an art of the bizarre, the monstrous, the uncanny.” Engelbert II commissioned the work for the Coudenberg Palace in Brussels, so while the work resembles a religious altarpiece in its structure, it was meant for a more secular and private audience. (The Art Story)