Advent offering – 6 December

I’m staying with the Genesis 2-3 text today, but am moving away from yesterday’s focus on Eve to a wider vista – the garden of Eden, before that fatal fruity bite. I love the work of Flemish Baroque painter Jan Breughel the younger (1601-78) – the colours and details in his paintings are absolutely delectable (check some more out here). In this depiction of Paradise, he shows us Eden in all its prelapsarian glory. Luxuriating in all those multi-toned lush greens, you can almost smell the cool, earthy scent of grass and leaves.

The animals louch about in every corner, quietly thrilled about their newly created home. The longer you look at the painting, the more animals you see (can you spot the squirrel?) And some of them appear to see us too – the indignant lion, the startled kitty, and the inquisitive parrot seem to be staring out at us, wondering what right, perhaps, we have to be there. Others simply ignore us onlookers, including the monkey who is contemplating some fruit atop a tree branch. The fruit looks rather apple-like – is this the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, the forbidden fruit that caused all that trouble? 

But then, in the distance, who do we see coming ever closer to this wee corner of paradise? It looks like Adam and Eve, making their frolicking way towards us. Sooner or later, they are going to see this tree and this fruit, and everything will change. So, before they get there, enjoy the garden while you can.

Jan Breughel the Younger, Paradise (17th Century)

2 thoughts on “Advent offering – 6 December

  1. cedar51 December 6, 2013 / 1:59 pm

    I feel that painters at that time, spent a lot of time with “fruit and flowers” and still-life of vegetables (one of the pictures on the other page has a pile of what looks like cabbages) and that shows through in this painting, The animals appear to me as “fillers” and they are topsy turvy in presentation…

    As to whether this is the tree/fruit that caused all the problems – n/a.


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