How do artists depict paradise?

Dr. James Fox

Humans have always speculated about what a perfect world might look like, whether as a reward in the afterlife, part of an origin story like the Garden of Eden, or a real place on Earth. How do we see these ideas play out in the art we create?

Watch preview

Learn about this Garden Talk

Elysium, the Garden of Eden, Jannah, Valhalla, Heaven - humans have been thinking about the concept of paradise for millennia.

It's an idea that crops up throughout history, in most major religions and in literature around the world in one form or another. And for just as long, humans have been exploring what these paradises might look like, and representing them in art and architecture.

They're so pervasive, in fact, that you'll be astonished at the range and diversity of visual references to paradise in the world around us. For example, did you know that the Forbidden City, with its succession of courts and gateways, was designed that way in an attempt to create a heavenly city on Earth?

All-time favourite Garden Fellow, Dr. James Fox, is an art historian at the University of Cambridge, a curator, an author and an award-winning broadcaster. James joins us in The Garden to explore how humans have attempted to create paradise on Earth through our art.

Read this talk's transcript

Talk outline


50 minutes


Fascinating Flowers

About the Fellow

Dr. James Fox

James fell in love with art at the age of six and hasn't looked back since. He is now an art historian at the University of Cambridge, a curator, an award-winning broadcaster and the author of bestselling book The World According to Colour.

Thank you notes from Garden members

Fascinating Flowers Collection

Flowers are all around us in the world but why do we love them so much?

Online live interactive talks with experts

Come learn from the best in their fields, and ask them your questions

Find an upcoming live talk

High-quality recorded talks on-demand

Watch recordings of 100+ past talks at your own pace

Browse on-demand talks

The Garden is a community for the curious, a place where inquisitive minds can come together to learn from world experts, and each other, and join in conversations about topics that spark their curiosity.

Find out more

With our monthly membership we aim to give anyone, anywhere, access to the knowledge, ideas and people who have shaped — and continue to shape — our understanding of the world.

Start free trial