The late Middle Ages saw the emergence in the Low Countries of a unique form of religious art that combined a wide and intriguing range of diverse artefacts: the Enclosed Garden.

The Gardens are exceptional mixed-media representations of an idealised spiritual and paradisiacal world. As well as the essential silk flowers, they include polychromed statuettes, metal pilgrim badges, wax medallions, relics and objects crafted from alabaster, parchment, paper and pipe clay; finishing decorative touches include spangles, pearls and beads made of glass, bone, coral and amber; painted panels form shutters to reveal or conceal the treasures within. Each assemblage of physical objects can stimulate an extraordinary journey through a ‘garden’ of the imagination.

Resulting from years of international research, this book is the first complete overview of the sixteenth-century Enclosed Gardens of the Museum Hof van Busleyden in Mechelen, which have long been recognised as outstanding masterpieces. The significance of the Gardens’ complex content and visual language is explored alongside analysis of their particular physical features, supported by comprehensive photographs, some of artefacts never previously observed. The wealth of new information and interpretation will transform understanding of these fascinating works of art.

Watteeuw, Lieve and Hannah Iterbeke. Enclosed Gardens of Mechelen. Late Medieval Paradise Gardens Revealed. Amsterdam University Press & Hannibal Publisher, 2018.