The odd charm of The Garden of Death can most likely be attributed to the fact that Death is depicted as a gentle character, as is most often the case in Hugo Simberg's work. Why is Death, the very essence of destruction, tending to the potted plants and flowers that are metaphors for life and regeneration? Simberg believed the garden of death to be a place where souls go before entering heaven. He depicts human souls as plants, almost as if man is as undeveloped compared to his paradisical self as a child is compared to an adult. The painting does not reveal whether all the souls in the garden end up going to heaven, or why it is necessary to wait in the garden in the first place, but the atmosphere is nevertheless one of peace rather than anxiety.


  • Title: The Garden of Death
  • Creator: Hugo Simberg
  • Creator Lifespan: 1873/1917
  • Creator Nationality: Finnish
  • Creator Gender: Male
  • Creator Death Place: Ähtäri
  • Creator Birth Place: Hamina
  • Date Created: 1896
  • Physical Dimensions: w17.5 x h16 cm
  • Inventory number: A II 968:16
  • Dimensions: 16 x 17.5 cm
  • Type: Paintings
  • Rights: Ateneum Art Museum, http://www.fng.fi/informationandresearch/photographicservice
  • Medium: Watercolour and gouache on paper

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