BOSCH, Hieronymus
(b. ca. 1450, 's-Hertogenbosch, d. 1516, 's-Hertogenbosch)

Triptych of Garden of Earthly Delights (left wing)

c. 1500
Oil on panel, 220 x 97 cm
Museo del Prado, Madrid

On the left wing the last three days of Creation are accomplished. The earth and water have brought forth their swarms of living creatures, including a giraffe, an elephant, and some wholly fabulous animals, like the unicorn. In the centre rises the Fountain of Life, a tall, slender roseate structure resembling a delicately carved Gothic tabernacle. The precious gems glittering in the mud at its base and some of the more fanciful animals probably reflect the medieval descriptions of India, whose marvels had fascinated the West since the days of Alexander the Great and where popular belief situated the lost Paradise of Eden.

In the foreground of this antediluvian landscape, we see the union of Adam and Eve by Christ. Taking Eve by the hand, he presents her to the newly awakened Adam who gazes at this creation from his rib with a mixture of surprise and anticipation.