Mediaeval Peace and Love

Hieronymous Bosch’s Garden of Delights (1480-90) is a visionary dance of true harmony and love.

Humans, as naked as the animals they share the garden with, are free – free from their egos and fears; they are open to the Universe and to Absolute Love; enamoured couples are everywhere, including – the modern viewer may be surprised to notice in a mediaeval painting – a few black individuals. Through this parity of skin colours, which echoes the male-female duality, we understand that differences are finally accepted as complementary, that variety means joy, and that from union comes universal happiness.

The pairs are literally and metaphorically enjoying the fruit of their love: some are cocooned in gigantic fruit, others eat or share large berries, while others wear fruit on their bodies, some more explicitly on their private parts.

By including other ethnicities as well as creatures from outside the Old Continent (camels, leopards…), Bosch’s interpretation of the Garden of Delights shows that the concept of love for and harmony and happiness with everyone on Earth is not a new, modern aspiration.



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