The Garden of Paradise recasts in a contemporary Hortus Conclusus as an allegory of life before the Fall. Tucked into a protected garden, free from original sin, homage the Virgin Mary and the baby Jesus are at ease.

The secluded garden offers serenity in a busy world. The Virgin Mary, in the blue gown, sits on a cushion and reads a book, perhaps the Gospels. Others in the garden tend fruit trees and discourse.  The baby Jesus sits at Mary’s feet, playing with a Psaltery held by St. Catherine of Alexandria, dressed in red. The small grotesque figure, next to the tree stump in the center foreground, is a reminder of fallen humanity, and the dead lizard suggests spiritual blindness.

The foods are symbolic: wine, strawberries, apples, which represent the Fall from grace and the resurrection through Jesus’ blood.

Featured Image: It seems picnicky. Upper Rhenish Master. The Little Garden of Paradise (1410/20). Stadelsches Kunstinstitut und Stadtische Galerie, Frankfurt am Main