Jheronimus Bosch: The Garden of Earthly Delights, center panel (1490-1510)
(Museo del Prado, Madrid, Spain)
The center panel shows the earth and is the most complex part of the painting. The entire center panel is an allegory of sensory and sensual life. People are seen talking, flirting with eachother (some of them are about to engage in sexual activity) and most of them are obsessed with fruit like cherries, brambles and strawberries. Cherries were associated with fertility and eroticism. Brambles were linked with love while strawberries represented temptation and mortality. On the left in the middle you can see a group of birds like the green woodpecker, the hoopoe, the robin and the duck. These birds are probably linked with the old Dutch word 'vogelen' (vogel = bird) whcih refered to having sexual intercourse.
In the center of the panel is a circle of men and women. The men are mounted on on horses, camels, unicorns, boars and other animals (the mounts represent vice and deadly sins such as lust, gluttony and pride) and are carrying fruits, eggs and birds. The men are corralling a group of women in the center of the circle.
Above the circle is again a large lake with a fountain in the center while strange looking buildings surround the lake. The men in and arround the lake are engaged in activities which are linked with temptation, desire and lust. In the center of the fountain is also a small scene: a bearded man who touches the crotch of a naked young woman. While in the fountain of paradise evil is lurking, on earth evil (here in the form of lust) has found its way to the very heart of the world itself.