'The Garden of Earthly Delights' is Bosch’s best-known and most ambitious surviving work painted in oil on oak. This painting is famous and interesting for many reasons, but recently a shocking detail in it was discovered by a college student. It was, with her own words, ”a 500-Year-Old Butt Song From Hell” written on a sinner’s bottom. Let’s see what makes this painting and this detail so important for art history...
1. Early Netherlandish painter Hieronymus Bosch’s painting “The Garden of Earthly Delights” consists of one panel in the middle and two side panels closing over the center.
2. When folded, it depicts the earth as a crystal ball. When the wings are open, we see that heaven, hell, and the world are described as fantastical spaces.
3. Heaven is located on the left, the earth is in the middle and the hell is on the right. When seen as a whole, the painting mesmerizes with its incredible details.
4. The left panel is the first stage of the painting. The garden of heaven is depicted under the light of existence of God, Adam and Eve.
5. In the heaven panel, there shines out the description of Adam meeting Eve. This composition, in a way, is the blessing of the relationship between them. On the background, there is a dragon tree representing eternal life.
6. In the rest of the heaven panel, we see a peaceful, serene landscape. In fact, this panel is worthy of its own analysis in depth, but let’s not forget what we we're up to.
7. The essence of the painting lays in the middle panel. It also gives the painting its name: The Garden of Earthly Delights
8. Although its name signifies earthliness, it is not really a kind of material reality reflected on the painting.
9. In fact, interaction of real and imaginary characters with each other, as well as with animals and nature, composes a surreal landscape in the middle panel.
10. Art historians have two different theories on the depictions in the middle panel.
11. The first argument is that the continuation of the heaven on earth is depicted.
12. The second argument, on the other hand, highlights the unawareness of sinful and lustful humans degenerating and wandering around not knowing the hellish torture awaiting them.
13. Now comes the most intriguing part: The Hell
14. In this part of the painting, we see Bosch’s imagination top out. An absurd spatial description dominated by a dark atmosphere draws the attention.
15. Character descriptions are profoundly imaginative, too. Also, the lust we see in the middle panel leaves itself to shame in this part.
16. Emotions like fear, disgust and despair are represented perfectly within the sceneries of violence and torture.
17. Right at this point, we encounter the musical notes written on a sinner’s bottom.
18. The first one to realize this unique detail was a student named Amelia who was “a hard-of-hearing music and information systems double major” at Oklahoma Christian School.
19. And there comes “The 500-Year-Old Butt Song from Hell,” as she named it. Amelia translated it into modern notation and played it for the first time.
20. When a blogger did a choral arrangement for it, however, the result had changed significantly.
21. All in all, Bosch’s 500 year-old “The Garden of Earthly Delights” reminds us that looking and seeing are two different things.