The Nature of The Garden of Earthly Delights

Essay by KEEBLER100University, Master'sA+, March 2005

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Jeffery L. Wright

Humanities 540

Professor Pat Gamon

23 February 2005

        The Nature of The Garden of Earthly Delights

        Very little is known about the great artist Hieronymus Bosch and even less about his painting The Garden of Earthly Delights. Bosch has intrigued many art historians for a number of reasons. First, many have been unable to fit his life and his work into some sort of understandable frame work. Second, his amazing imagery of his most famous work The Garden of Earthly Delights has fueled rumors of some connection with heretical sects. Laurinda S. Dixon's' article on Bosch's The Garden of Earthly Delights advocates that this painting was primarily influenced by alchemy.

        Laurinda S. Dixon provides and interesting argument for her thesis. She believes that Bosch's painting fits comfortable into fifteenth century definition of alchemy. Furthermore, she also contends that it is reasonable to suggest that Bosch's and other fifteenth century illustrators of scientific texts, being confronted with turning words and concepts into pictures, reached the same results but at different times.

To this end, it is impossible to ignore the influence of sixteenth century alchemical works by early authors that Bosch was familiar with.

In addition, she further speculates that the confusion surrounding The Garden of Earthly Delights and its relationship to alchemy lies in separating medieval alchemy from

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Rosicrucianism, a philosophy that appropriated some of the mystical elements of alchemy, but none of the practical ones.

Dixon may have indeed been on the right track inferring that Bosch was looking into alchemy as part of a structure for his painting but some feel that her research is one sided. In Art & Ideas William Fleming suggest that other scholars have .... "ransacked the bible; lives of old the old saints as told in...