It also has painted shutters. The triptych was originally owned by King Philip II of Spain and displayed in his El Escorial Palace. The central panel was later owned separately by Isabella II of Spain, the left panel was acquired by the Prado Museum in Madrid, while the right panel remained at El Escorial.
It was not until 1914 that the three panels of the triptych came back together in the Prado, where the triptych is currently displayed. A copy hangs in El Escorial.
The painting is full of the Christian imagery and vivid, nightmarish details for which Bosch is famous. The first panel shows God casting angels out of heaven, where they turn into insects.
It also shows the creation of Adam and Eve, their temptation by the Devil and their subsequent casting out from the Garden of Eden. The main panel depicts the haywain of the title, with a huge hay wagon surrounded by different types of people who are committing various sins. Christ is shown looking down upon them. The hay cart is being drawn by an assortment of half-human demons, and these continue into the right-hand panel.
This shows a scene which is either a fiery Hell or the Day of the Last Judgement. It is filled with demons who are torturing naked and half-clothed human sinners. Some of the demons are also building a pair of towers.
The outside shutters of the triptych, which are revealed when the panels are closed, is painted in colour with a version of a previous Bosch painting, The Wayfarer.
The Haywain Triptych is very similar in composition to two earlier Hieronymus Bosch triptychs, “The Garden of Earthly Delights” and “The Last Judgment.” Hieronymus Bosch was a Dutch artist, who spent his whole life in the city of ‘s-Hertogenbosch, from where he derived the name Bosch.
He was born Jheronimus van Aken. Bosch was deeply religious and became a member of the conservative Catholic group, the Brotherhood of our Lady. In 1463, when Bosch was a teenager, ‘s-Hertogenbosch was nearly destroyed by a massive fire. It is likely that this event influenced his depictions of Hell, seen so vividly in the Haywain Triptych.