Jheronimus Bosch: The Garden of Earthly Delights, left panel (1490-1510)

(Museo del Prado, Madrid, Spain)

The left panel shows the garden of Eden with all its riches. Al kind of real exotic animals are shown: wild boars, porcupines, rabbits, a lion, apes, birds, an elephant and even a giraffe (an unknown animal for Bosch, this animal was copied from the picture in Cyriacus of Ancona's Egyptian Voyage). Around the lake in the middle you can also seen a unicorn, a fabled animal. the wide array of animals is intended to show the miraculous and diverse quality of God’s creation. in the middle of the lake stands a large pink fountain. the fountain is the source of all life: the origin of flowing water, from which all plants, animals and people drink. in the center of the fountain there is a small owl sitting. Owls were associated with impending evil and doom. The bird reminds us that evil is always watching us, waiting for an opportunity to strike. Below the fountain stand Jesus with Adam and Eve. Eve has just been created and Jesus blesses the new couple. The rabbits  below the couple are a symbol of fertility. The weird looking tree at the left of the couple is a dragon tree (also an unknown thing for Bosch as tree only grows at the Canary Islands, Madeira and Cape Verde).

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