The garden of Paradise, Hortus Conclusus

The painting represents Mary as a delicate and weak virgin locked in her garden, hortus conclusus or closed garden that is a symbol of her virginity.

The painter deals with the subject by changing the conventions.

Maria is not the center of the painting, but remains in the upper left corner, reading a book. She is surrounded by saints like Santa Dorotea who is picking cherries behind. Santa Barbara takes water from a well.

Santa Catalina holds a psalter, in which the Child Jesus strikes the strings.

At the feet of Saint George there is a dead Milan and at those of the Archangel Michael a small black demon.

Saint Osvald leans on a trunk.

The Garden of Paradise is one of the first paintings in which plants are depicted realistically.

They are all easily recognized. Most of them are Marian plants, that is, those that are among the symbols of the Virgin.

Along the wall, different types of birds and insects can be clearly recognized. The painting measures 26.3 by 33.4 centimeters.

Preserved in the Städel Museum, painted 1410 and shows a small fragment of the world of that time: a corner of the garden surrounded by the walls of a castle.

At that time the castles served as a refuge. Conflicts between the nobles are not resolved through the mediation of the emperor or the courts, but through attacks and defenses.

Fighting was a part of life at all levels.

The walls of this peaceful garden form a barrier against the world of violence.

The clutter and discomforts of everyday life are also left out: the excrement of the roads, the wandering dogs and pigs, the stench, the lack of space, the darkness and cold of the houses, the spectacle of disease and poverty.

The idyll of the garden offers the other side of daily life.

1410 gardens where you can enjoy life are not as widespread as they are today.

The Roman occupation troops make them known in the north, but they disappear with the fall of the Roman Empire and the disorders caused by the great barbarian invasions.

The convents again spread the taste for the garden beyond the Alps, but it focuses more on its usefulness than on its beauty.

In the square garden of the cloisters medicinal and aromatic herbs are grown, in the center there is a fountain and a part of the land is dedicated to the tombs of the brothers of the order.

It was only around the year 1200 that the garden was rediscovered as a place of leisure and fun. Above all, it must be beautiful so that the visitor can enjoy the pleasure of walking.

St. Albert the Great (c. 1200-1280), the learned theologian from Cologne, propagates this type of garden and many of his advice is reflected in the painting Mary in the closed garden, with saints painted two centuries later by a Rhenish master anonymous.

It should have a height with grass and full of flowers (…) suitable for sitting and enjoying the rest with delight. The trees should not be too close to each other because the absence of a light breeze can impair well-being.

A garden of delights must also have a well surrounded by stones (because its purity is a source of much pleasure).

Los secretos de las obras de arte. Rose-Marie & Rainer Hagen. Taschen.


Publicado por ilabasmati

Licenciada en Bellas Artes, FilologÍa Hispánica y lIiteratura Inglesa.

Deja una respuesta

Introduce tus datos o haz clic en un icono para iniciar sesión:

Logo de

Estás comentando usando tu cuenta de Salir /  Cambiar )

Foto de Facebook

Estás comentando usando tu cuenta de Facebook. Salir /  Cambiar )

Conectando a %s

A %d blogueros les gusta esto: