The well-known “Garden of Delights” by Hieronymus Bosch represents three stages of the world on its respective boards (it’s a triptych) with Sin as a common denominator. Although Falkenburg says that the theme of the painting is human destiny, it can also be seen from a modern environmental perspective. The open triptych represents three scenes which range from an ideal world (Paradise) to an apocalypse (Hell). The board on the left would be earthly paradise with Adam and Eve as protagonists. Here we can see all creatures in harmony: animals and humans respect and share an unpolluted nature. Fauna and flora abound and flow freely across the whole scene. The middle board shows the “garden of delights”, a false paradise which we could well compare to the world today. It appears to be a continuation of the earthly paradise (in fact, the horizon and bright colours are maintained) but we can see an overcrowding of characters, and the exploitation of nature and of all creatures, animal and human. Ultimately, it is general mayhem which can only lead to chaos. Finally, the board on the right shows us hell represented as a dark landscape, polluted and uninhabitable, where everything/body eats each other. This may well be the future Mankind should fear unless we change tack towards a more sustainable development.
Recently, Leonardo di Caprio has used this same allegory of the garden of delights at the beginning of his documentary on climate change, “Before the flood” (2016).
Marta Garcia Haro, Project leader: Red Española para el Desarrollo Sostenible (REDS) (Spanish Network for Sustainable Development)