Laatmiddeleeuwse symboliek en de beeldentaal van Hiëronymus Bosch (R.H. Marijnissen) 1977
[Mededelingen van de Koninklijke Academie voor Wetenschappen, Letteren en Schone Kunsten van België, Klasse der Schone Kunsten, vol. XXXIX (1977), n° 1, Paleis der Academiën, Brussels, 1977, 54 pages]
[Also mentioned in Gibson 1983: 92-93 (E116)]
In this little booklet – of special interest because of the publication of a number of late-medieval texts – Marijnissen offers material which can be useful when interpreting the Garden of Delights. The texts quoted by Marijnissen don’t prove that this triptych’s central panel is about the sin of unchastity (luxuria) but they can be considered as important arguments in favour of this thesis.
In the passages he quotes and in the illustrations he discusses, the carousel and the mermaid are clearly associated with unchastity. Birds such as the hoopoo and the owl undeniably have negative connotations. According to the contemporary material Marijnissen adduces, the hoopoo is a dirty, unclean bird and the owl is a symbol of temptation.
Marijnissen also points out that many late-medieval symbols are hard to decipher, but this does not mean they can be interpreted in an indiscriminate way. As a rule the interpretations have to be placed within a limited and well-defined geographical and cultural-historical context.