A triptych is a work of art, usually a panel which is divided into three sections. An example of this kind of painting is “The Garden of Earthly Delights,” painted by Hieronymus Bosch. The three panels in the picture represent a continuative story. The left panel shows the occasion of God presenting Eve to Adam; the central panel is a panorama of nude figures, non-existing animals, and oversized fruits. Finally, the right section shows Bosch’s thoughts on hell and damnation. Although the painting is divided into three parts, each of these works is linked to others.
The left panel of the work probably depicts a scene from paradise, when God introduced Eve to Adam. Art historian of the twentieth century Wilhelm Fraenger thought that this section of the painting is a magical representation of the connection between the Creator and his creatures. According to Fraenger, the fact that God holds Eve’s wrist with his left hand shows the physical and spiritual relationship that occurs between God and his humans. By contrast, another historian Virginia Tuttle thought that some of the elements in this part of the painting contradict with the purity that is expected to be present in the story of the creation. Tuttle believed that any of these paintings cannot be a representation of the events from the Book of Genesis.
The central part of the Center Panel depicts a garden, which gives the work its name. The garden is filled with animals, fruits, nude men and women. The human figures appear to enjoy innocent pleasures such as playing in the water or with animals. According to Fraenger, the activities taking place in the central part of the section could be considered as a playground for corruption. For Fraenger, the overall panel illustrates a utopia before the Fall.
The right panel is the illustration of Hell. In the section, Bosch depicts the world in which people are damned because of their evil actions on the Earth. The tone of this part of the painting brings a significant contrast with previous parts. The scene happens at night, and the natural beauty of right and center panels is obviously absent. In this section, the viewer can see cities on fire, war, demons in the middle. Massive explosions in the background throw light on the city. According to writer Walter Gibson, the reflection of fire turns water into blood. What is interesting about the painting is that Bosch does not picture the hell as something fictional, but he represents it in the realistic world filled with everyday human actions. Animals are punishing people, which could be a sign of human sin and the punishment that comes afterward. There are many views that the central panel is a warning for humans to avoid sinful pleasures, and the right panel is the representation of what would happen in the case of making those sins.
Many critics observed this painting as a warning to humans about Deadly Sins. According to art historian Ludwig von Baldass, with this work Bosch represented the spreading Deadly Sins because of the creation of Eve, and how this led to Hell.