Where’s Waldo? In Hell, Probably

I really enjoyed my first blog post pulling out the quirky parts of some of my favorite works (and using them to create a fun title, of course). As I continue through my Northern Renaissance Art History class, we brought up the perfect opportunity to talk about the weird and funny and quirky:

And that, everyone, is Hieronymus Bosch.

His paintings are an absolute joy to dissect, while at the same time being the most interesting and horrifying group of demons that you’ve ever seen. Most notably, the Tree Man. He is drawn by Bosch quite a few times, but his most famous depiction is probably in the triptych Garden of Earthly Delights, on the far right panel—where the world is descending into madness at the hands of demons and their punishment of humanity. 

The far left of the triptych depicts Adam and Eve, then the center depicts almost a party of humanity in an insane amount of figures (like the world’s weirdest Where’s Waldo, hence the title of this post), the right however, is where all the fun is. The right panel holds a plethora of demons punishing humanity for their sins. Allow us to dissect!

The first thing that you have to notice here is the Tree Man and his best friend, Ears with Knives…obviously. Because why not?

But the fun only grows the more we zoom in.

The Tree Man

We have a knight, being eaten by a den of lizard rat hybrid demons

Our lovely pig nun

Demons forcing a vain woman to stare at herself in the mirror as various insect like creatures grab her

The Devil himself, eating and um… secreting… some sinful souls only to repeat the process

And of course, butt music. (Which you can listen to if you click here, because its been transcribed and it actually is real music)

The more you look, the more you find. Bosch was a master of the small details and the story telling of a painting. He took the rules of a triptych and turned them completely on their head! As much as it’s easy to forget in all of this detail, Bosch convincingly conveys his message through all of this horror. He’s telling us the prices to be paid for mortal sin. His creativity is only the start of what the devil must be conjuring up, and his imagery doesn’t let you forget it. It’s easy to forget the seriousness of his message as you stare at men who are doomed for eternity to poop and puke golden coins, but when you place yourself in their shoes it rings loud and clear to avoid sin at all costs. And Waldo, if you’re in there, good luck. 

(Here are some other images by Bosch, if you’re interested)

Featured Image: museodelprado.es

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