The Garden of Earthly Delights
is a triptych
painted by the early Netherlandish
master Hieronymus Bosch
(c. 1450–1516), housed in the Museo del Prado
since 1939. Dating from 1503 and 1504, when Bosch was about 50 years old, it is his best-known and most ambitious work. Bosch's masterpiece
reveals the artist at the height of his powers. The triptych comprises three sections, a square inner panel with rectangular panels on either side which close as shutters. The panels are painted in oil
, the exterior panels of the shutters being in grisaille
. The outer wings, when folded shut, show the earth during the Creation
. The three scenes of the inner triptych are probably intended to be read chronologically from left to right. The left panel depicts God presenting to Adam
the newly created Eve
. The central panel is a broad panorama of sexually engaged nude figures, fantastical animals, oversized and gorged fruit, and hybrid stone formations. The right panel is a hellscape and portrays the torments of damnation
. Art historians
and critics frequently interpret the painting as a didactic warning on the perils of life's temptations. American writer Peter S. Beagle
describes it as an "erotic derangement that turns us all into voyeurs, a place filled with the intoxicating air of perfect liberty".
The Qianlong Emperor was the sixth emperor of the Manchu-led Qing Dynasty, and the fourth Qing emperor to rule over China. The fourth son of the Yongzheng Emperor, his reign officially began 11 October 1735, lasting for 60 years. Named Hongli, he chose the era name Qianlong, meaning "heavenly prosperity". Although his early years saw the continuation of an era of prosperity and great military success in China, his final years saw troubles at home and abroad converge on the Qing Empire. Qianlong abdicated the throne at the age of 85, to his son, the Jiaqing Emperor, fulfilling his promise not to reign longer than his grandfather, the Kangxi Emperor.