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Hieronymus Bosch and the Devil’s Guts

Todd Powelson
The Garden of Earthly Delights

Not much is known about the life of the Dutch artist Hieronymus Bosch. He was born around 1450, and died in 1516. I don’t remember now where I heard, or where I might have read it, but there is one thing about Bosch that has always stood out for me (aside from his incredible paintings). Hieronymus Bosch believed that we and all of the universe (this world would have been considered to be the whole universe by the majority of people at the time) were traveling through the digestive system of the devil, and that was one of the reasons life is so difficult. That idea was just so bizarre that it has always stuck in my mind and imagination. I think that idea is also portrayed in much of what Bosch painted, with human larvae devoured by parasitic demons… so strange.

“Garden…” detail

Bosch is most well known for the numerous triptych paintings he produced throughout his life, and the most famous of those would probably be his Garden of Earthly Delights. The Garden of Earthly Delights triptych depicts Adam and Eve visiting with god in the Garden of Eden in the left panel, surrounded by all sorts of animals. It is hard to know what exactly is going on in the middle panel. All I can tell is that there are a bunch of naked people running around or riding on beautiful birds and unicorns, eating all sorts of strange fruit, living in and surrounded by orbital architecture. The right-most panel is hell, showing all those naked fruit eaters being tormented by very unique and bizarre demons.

“Garden…” detail

Another great painting would have to be Bosch’s Temptation of Saint Anthony. The triptych format is such an interesting way to present a piece painting, and a powerful form of visual story-telling.

Amazing pieces, created by such a unique mind.

Christ Carrying the Cross

Click on the images at the top and bottom of the post to see the paintings a little better here online. If you haven’t checked out the online google galleries, you should. Good stuff: | Christ Mocked – The Crowning with thorns | Prado

Temptation of St. Anthony
Todd Powelson
Todd Powelson works as a Graphic Designer, Illustrator, and Visual Artist.

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