Hieronymus Bosch's The Garden of Earthly Delights (c. 1504) is perhaps his most well know and most unconventional artwork, proving that he was one of the important precursors to the Surrealist movement. Nowhere else does he get so overly detailed and complex in symbolism. The work tells a story that can best be understood in four parts. The exterior of the triptych shows a world defunct of most life, with only plants being visible. This shows the existence of the earth prior to creation of man, probably on the Third Day. Fast-forward to the left panel and you get a glimpse of God presenting Eve to Adam. Many animals occupy this frame. This includes several animals that would be considered exotic by europeans, including a lion, giraffe, unicorn, etc. A snake curled around the tree near Adam spells out their impending eviction. Moving to the center panel we see the visual representation of sin. A whole mess of devious acts are being carried out. A couple is being carried away while in a clam shell, oversized birds and fruit litter the ground, sea-mines were invented 300 to early, and more. It is interesting to note that while there is an abundance of naked people in the center panel, no sexual acts are explicitly portrayed. The last panel continues the pattern of seeming incredibly bizarre. The right panel displays the results of the sinful excess of the center panel. Scholars believe that this panel represents hell, or the end of days as a counterpoint to the left panel. Got to say that my favorite concoction that Bosch added to this panel has to be the set of ears with a knife through it. That being said one of the more peculiar images in the panel is a self portrait of Bosch in the middle. This might have been added to show that he was a pious man, not worthy to stand in the presence of god upon his death. Lucifer is widely believed to be seat bird eating people in the bottom right corner. All in all, I admire the dedication it must have taken to make this triptych and find this to be an amazing work of art.
A biography of Hieronymus Bosch
Here is a Gallery of other works by Bosch
Buy a replica of it; creep out your friends and family