146963 is the code for the Escala garage in Fifty Shades of Grey. I got curious if this number meant anything. I might be on to something.
It’s the image number for Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, part of the Garden of Earthy Delights by Hieronymus Bosch. It was created in the 16th Century and is housed at the Prado Museum in Madrid, Spain.
The painting has 4 pieces, an exterior element visible when the 2 panels on the outside are closed and then the 3 panels of the painting. The exterior is painted in “monochromatic shades of grey“and represents the creation of earth, specifically the 3rd day, before humans were created.
There are several interpretations of the painting – it’s a warning of the perils of life’s temptations, 20th Centurty historians are torn if it’s a moral warning or a panorama of paradise lost. The American writer Peter Beagle describes it as an “erotic derangement that turns us all into voyers, a place filled with the intoxicating air of perfect liberty.” No matter which interpretation you believe, they all seem to be in line with the idea that the whole painting is a warning against the temptation of lust.
The image numbered 146963, Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, is part of the left most panel of this work, The Garden of Eden section. The tree behind Adam is the tree of knowledge.
The left panel has been called Joining of Adam and Eve – the moment God presents Eve to Adam. Gods holds Eve’s hand with his own left hand while Adam is to his right, God signals approval for the match with his right hand.
The painting goes on to show the progression of sin (middle panel), while the panel does not show acts of sex, it is meant to represent the sins of lust. The painting ends with the right most panel, representing Hell. A place that burns and people are tortured.
By the time Christian and Anastasia meet in Escala they are in the early stages of falling in love. Though they would probably only admit to their lust at that time, otherwise it might have been high ideals. But she is quick to eat from the tree of knowledge and moves right on into the middle panel of the painting.
The right panel reminds me a bit of what Escala might have been to Christian before Anastasia. A place where Christian “burns” with desire and commits many sins. Could this be Hell to Christian, the place where he contemplates growing up in a perfect family when he doesn’t believe he’s perfect himself. It’s a place that Anastasia refers to as an art gallery, not a home, a place where he isolates himself from the rest of the world.
This could totally be a coincidence and EL James just chosen the first 6 numbers that came to her head and they happen to coincide with this painting. But with quotes like “Like Eve, you’re so quick to eat from the tree of knowledge,” in the book, I’m left wondering.
I have heard back from EL James:
Thank you EL James!
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