Finnish painter Hugo Simberg portrayed death with warmth and lightheartedness, challenging viewers to revisit their apprehensions about mortality. According to the artist, The Garden of Death depicts “the place where the dead end up before going to Heaven.” The skeletons are helpers who lovingly tend to plants and flowers representing human souls. The Ateneum art museum observes that by representing human souls as plants, Simberg implies that “man is as undeveloped compared to his paradisical self as a child is compared to an adult.”
Simberg produced several variations of The Garden of Death using different techniques. This version was executed in watercolor and gouache. Frescos of The Garden of Death and another of his great works, The Wounded Angel, adorn Tampere Cathedral in Tampere, Finland; a Lutheran church designed in the National Romantic style by Lars Sonck and built between 1902 and 1907.