Take a Virtual Tour of Hieronymus Bosch’s Bewildering Masterpiece The Garden of Earthly Delights

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Art his­to­ri­ans have argued about the mean­ing of The Gar­den of Earth­ly DelightsHierony­mus Bosch’s enor­mous­ly sized, lav­ish­ly detailed, and com­pelling­ly grotesque late 14th- or ear­ly 15th-cen­tu­ry triptych—more or less since the painter’s death. What does it real­ly say about the appear­ance and fall of man on Earth that it seems to depict? How seri­ous­ly or iron­i­cal­ly does it say it? Does it offer us a warn­ing against temp­ta­tion, or a cel­e­bra­tion of temp­ta­tion? Does it take a reli­gious or anti-reli­gious stance? And what’s with all those creepy ani­mals and bizarre pseu­do-sex acts? “In spite of all the inge­nious, eru­dite and in part extreme­ly use­ful research devot­ed to the task,” said schol­ar Erwin Panof­sky, “I can­not help feel­ing that the real secret of his mag­nif­i­cent night­mares and day­dreams has still to be dis­closed.”

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Panof­sky said that in the 1950s, by which era he summed up the accu­mu­lat­ed efforts to decode Bosch as hav­ing “bored a few holes through the door of the locked room; but some­how we do not seem to have dis­cov­ered the key.” Now you can at least try your own hand at knock­ing on the door with this “inter­ac­tive doc­u­men­tary” of The Gar­den of Ear­ly Delights, which allows you to explore the paint­ing in depth, read­ing and hear­ing what sto­ries we know of the many images night­mar­ish­ly and often hilar­i­ous­ly pre­sent­ed with­in, while you zoom far clos­er than you could while even stand­ing before the real thing at the Pra­do.

(Assum­ing you could suc­cess­ful­ly elbow your way past all the tour groups.)  “The vis­i­tor of the inter­ac­tive doc­u­men­tary will get a bet­ter under­stand­ing of what it was like to live in the Late Mid­dle Ages,” says the offi­cial descrip­tion, which also assures us we can “come back after a vis­it and pick up the book again from the shelf to fur­ther explore.”

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The project comes as part of a larg­er “trans­me­dia tryp­tich,” which also con­sists of the tra­di­tion­al doc­u­men­tary film Hierony­mus Bosch, Touched by the Dev­il (whose trail­er you can see below) and a “vir­tu­al real­i­ty doc­u­men­tary” called Hierony­mus Bosch, the Eyes of the Owl. I find that last title espe­cial­ly appro­pri­ate, since I’ve long enjoyed Bosch’s recur­ring owls and appre­ci­ate the abil­i­ty this high­ly zoomable Gar­den of Earth­ly Delights offers me to count them one by one. Spend some time roam­ing Bosch’s vision’s par­adise, bac­cha­nal, and damna­tion and, whether you take the guid­ed tour through them or not, you’ll find much to stare at in sheer fas­ci­na­tion — and, as often as not, dis­be­lief.

via Metafil­ter

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Dutch Book From 1692 Doc­u­ments Every Col­or Under the Sun: A Pre-Pan­tone Guide to Col­ors

300+ Etch­ings by Rem­brandt Now Free Online, Thanks to the Mor­gan Library & Muse­um

Rijksmu­se­um Dig­i­tizes & Makes Free Online 210,000 Works of Art, Mas­ter­pieces Includ­ed!

16th-Cen­tu­ry Ams­ter­dam Stun­ning­ly Visu­al­ized with 3D Ani­ma­tion

Mas­ter of Light: A Close Look at the Paint­ings of Johannes Ver­meer Nar­rat­ed by Meryl Streep

Based in Seoul, Col­in Mar­shall writes and broad­casts on cities and cul­ture. He’s at work on a book about Los Ange­les, A Los Ange­les Primer, the video series The City in Cin­e­ma, the crowd­fund­ed jour­nal­ism project Where Is the City of the Future?, and the Los Ange­les Review of Books’ Korea Blog. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

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