Hieronymus Bosch's Garden of Earthly Delights is one of the most enigmatic paintings in the history of western art. Apart from a brief description by an eyewitness in 1517, there are no contemporary records that tell us anything about the original commission of the painting, its placement, function or audience.
Reindert Falkenburg now offers a detailed analysis of Bosch's eye- and mind boggling play with pictorial traditions. He argues that the painting was created towards the end of the fifteenth century as a conversation piece for an audience of Burgundian nobles. He suggests that the Garden of Earthly Delights served as a multifaceted mirror for viewers to reflect on how humanity, while created in the image and likeness of God, in the course of history has lost its original identity and tends towards becoming one with a world that is susceptible to an all-perverting force of evil origin. This debatable nature of Bosch's imagery is central to any engaged viewership, historical or modern.