Hieronymus Bosch is one of my favorite artists, in particular his “Garden of Earthly Delights” painting. To the unfamiliar eyes his paintings can look somewhat demented and silly, but in reality have deep theological meaning. Illiteracy among the poor was common in the middle ages. These paintings were a way to illustrate the dangers of the sinful world.
This particular image by Bosch shows a helmeted bird monster, a sinner man, and a pig dressed as a nun. This image is on the third panel of the “Garden of Earthly Delights” painting. The third panel of this painting is important because it illustrates the consequences of living a sinful life and the eventual eternal damnation of man.
The nun has manifested into a pig to demonstrate the hypocrisy of the clergy while dipping her pen in the ink pot attached to the monsters beak. She is writing the contract for the soul of the sinful man who has been damned by his selfish ways. The pig nun is seen whispering lies into the ear of the condemned man.
The helmeted monster is shown with an arrow gouged into its leg wearing armor depicting the battle endured in hell. The severed foot swinging from the monsters helmet is also an indication of the type of brutality and punishment that will be issued to the damned. The oddity of this monster is masterfully portrayed leaving you with a grotesque and evil feeling.
Hieronymus Bosch’s illustrations can seem a little strange but when investigated can bring to light the true meaning and importance of his work. The middle ages were a time of brutality, extravagance, and immorality, making the work of Bosch a constant reminder of what is to come and the consequences of a sinful life.
Even today we have a fascination with this Renaissance painter Bosch. His mysterious monsters with grotesque humor have been adapted into 3D sculpture by Parastone of the Netherlands. Here is an image of the Monster, Sinner and Nun Pig Statue available for sale in our store (item# JB22). The Helmeted Monster is also offered by himself (item# JB11).
Contributed by Nick Gomez, Art-Minded at Museumize.com
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