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The Garden of Earthly Delights by Hieronymus Bosch

The Garden of Earthly Delights, 1510

Hieronymus Bosch

Crowds of nude human figures, giant birds, and horses cavort and frolic in a surreal, otherworldly landscape. It would take hours to uncover all the intricate details packed into these three panels, which depict Eden on the left, then the teeming Garden of Earthly Delights, and at right, Hell, yet viewed together they form a harmonious whole. The unsettling imagery and unbridled sensuality would not be out of place in science fiction, which makes the fact that this was painted in 1510 even more amazing. The painting shows the dreams and nightmares that afflict people who live for pleasure alone, or as writer Peter S. Beagle describes it, an “erotic derangement that turns us all into voyeurs, a place filled with the intoxicating air of perfect liberty.”

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