The Peasant and the Nest Robber
The Peasant and the Nest Robber is an oil-on-panel painting by the Netherlandish Renaissance artist Pieter Bruegel the Elder, painted in 1568. It is in the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna; this painting was in the collections of since 1569. Painted the year before the artist's death, this painting, like other late works such as The Land of Cockaigne, The Peasant Dance, The Peasant Wedding, is dominated by monumental figures. After his return from Italy, Bruegel showed no apparent interest in Italian figure types and compositions, reverting to the Antwerp tradition in which he had been trained. However, in these late works he shows that his study of Italian painting had taken root: these figures demonstrate his knowledge of Italian art and in particular the art of Michelangelo; this unusual subject illustrates a Netherlandish proverb: Dije den nest Weet dijen weeten, dijen Roft dij heeten He who knows where the nest is, has the knowledge, he who robs, has the nest. The painting presents a moralising contrast between the active, wicked individual and the passive man, virtuous in spite of adversity And lastly it could be suggested that the pointing man is making judgement on the robber whilst not aware that he is nearly stepping into the water in front of him.
It has been suggested that, with his knowledge of Italian art, Bruegel intended the peasant's gesture as a profane parody of the gesture of Leonardo's St John see image at left. The Peasant and the Nest Robber at the Kunsthistorisches Museum Notes on the painting, on Frammenti d'Arte Accessed 4 February 2012 Bosch Bruegel Society 99 works by Pieter Bruegel the Elder Creative Bruegel laid the foundation of the Netherlands School "Bruegel". Encyclopedia Americana. 1920
The Tower of Babel (Bruegel)
The Tower of Babel was the subject of three paintings by Pieter Bruegel the Elder. The first, a miniature painted on ivory, was painted while Bruegel is now lost; the two surviving paintings distinguished by the prefix "Great" and "Little", are in the Kunsthistorisches Museum and the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen in Rotterdam respectively. Both are oil paintings on wood panels; the Rotterdam painting is about half the size of the Vienna one. In broad terms they have the same composition, but at a detailed level everything is different, whether in the architecture of the tower or in the sky and the landscape around the tower; the Vienna version has a group in the foreground, with the main figure Nimrod, believed to have ordered the construction of the tower, although the Bible does not say this. In Vienna the tower rises at the edge of a large city, but the Rotterdam tower is in open countryside; the paintings depict the construction of the Tower of Babel, according to the Book of Genesis in the Bible, was built by a unified, monolingual humanity as a mark of their achievement and to prevent them from scattering: "Then they said,'Come, let us build ourselves a city, a tower with its top in the heavens, let us make a name for ourselves.
Bruegel's depiction of the architecture of the tower, with its numerous arches and other examples of Roman engineering, is deliberately reminiscent of the Roman Colosseum, which Christians of the time saw as a symbol of both hubris and persecution. Bruegel had visited Rome in 1552–1553. Back in Antwerp, he may have refreshed his memory of Rome with a series of engravings of the principal landmarks of the city made by the publisher of his own prints, Hieronymous Cock, for he incorporated details of Cock's engravings of Roman views in both surviving versions of the Tower of Babel; the parallel of Rome and Babylon had a particular significance for Bruegel's contemporaries: Rome was the Eternal City, intended by the Caesars to last forever, its decay and ruin were taken to symbolize the vanity and transience of earthly efforts. The Tower was symbolic of the religious turmoil between the Catholic church and the polyglot Protestant religion, popular in the Netherlands; the subject may have had a specific topicality, as the famous Polyglot Bible in six languages, a landmark in Biblical scholarship, was published in Antwerp in 1566.
Although at first glance the tower appears to be a stable series of concentric pillars, upon closer examination it is apparent that none of the layers lies at a true horizontal. Rather the tower is built as an ascending spiral; the workers in the painting have built the arches perpendicular to the slanted ground, thereby making them unstable, a few arches can be seen crumbling. The foundation and bottom layers of the tower had not been completed before the higher layers were constructed. Lucas van Valckenborch, a contemporary of Bruegel's painted the Tower of Babel in the 1560s and in his career after seeing Bruegel's depiction. Both were part of a larger tradition of painting the tower during the 17th centuries; the story of the Tower of Babel was interpreted as an example of pride punished, and, no doubt what Bruegel intended his painting to illustrate. Moreover, the hectic activity of the engineers and workmen points to a second moral: the futility of much human endeavour. Nimrod's doomed building was used to illustrate this meaning in Sebastian Brant's Ship of Fools.
Bruegel's knowledge of building procedures and techniques is correct in detail. The skill with which he has shown these activities recalls that his last commission, left unfinished at his death, was for a series of documentary paintings recording the digging of a canal linking Brussels and Antwerp. Both towers are shown partly-built with stone facings over a massive brick framework, a typical technique in Roman architecture, used in the Colosseum and other huge Roman buildings. Grand and formal architecture of this sort is not a usual interest of Bruegel in either paintings or drawings, although it was typical subject matter for many of his contemporaries. Nadine Orenstein, in discussing his only known drawing of buildings in Rome, concludes from the details taken from the Colosseum in both Tower paintings that he "must" have recorded them in drawings on his visit ten years before, but given the easy availability of prints this does not seem conclusive. There are no surviving drawings that are any other of Bruegel's paintings.
This is despite indications. Both Tower versions are full of the type of details which are to have been worked out in sketches first. Except for a lack of mountains, the paintings contain the main ingredients of the world landscape, a type of composition followed in many of Bruegel's earlier landscapes; the Vienna tower is built around a steep small mountain, which can be seen protruding from the architecture at the centre near the ground and to the right higher up. The Vienna painting is dated "Brvegel. FE. M. CCCCC. LXIII ", on the stone block directly in front of the king, it was painted in 1563 for the Antwerp banker Nicolaes Jonghelinck, one of Bruegel's best patrons, who owned no fewer than 16 of his paintings. The painting appears as the main element on one box art design of the video game Civilization III, they are mentioned in Shadowman, where Jaunty explains that Bruegel was shocked at how The Asylum resemb
The Wine of Saint Martin's Day
The Wine of Saint Martin's Day is the largest painting by Pieter Bruegel the Elder. It is held in the Museo del Prado, where it was identified as a Bruegel original in 2010. Like much of Bruegel's work it depicts peasant life, in this case a festival known as St. Martin's Day, which involves drinking the first wine of the season; the picture depicts. Although it is not a religious painting as such, it contains references to Christianity. There is a roadside cross, which the peasants ignore, among the many figures is a group which alludes to the legend of St Martin of Tours dividing his cloak to share it with a beggar; this idea of having an important theme relegated to the side of the painting is paralleled in, for example, Landscape with the Fall of Icarus, which highlights ordinary events. The picture has been dated on stylistic grounds to the 1560s, it is one of several surviving works by this artist executed in glue-size on linen. By the early twenty-first century, when its owners took it to the Prado for restoration, the painting was not in a good state of conservation.
This is not surprising as the fragile medium tends to cause conservation problems.. After restoration, the painting was put on public display in the Prado; the work was identified as a Bruegel in 2010 at the Museo del Prado in Madrid. A study of the surface using X-rays revealed fragments of Bruegel's signature, thereby confirming his authorship, it was subsequently acquired by the Prado for less than its value on the open market. The Wine of Saint Martin's Day matches the description of a painting, inventoried in the collection of the Gonzaga dukes of Mantua in the early seventeenth century. However, there is some doubt as to, it might, for example, have been a related painting now in Vienna's Kunsthistorisches Museum, which shows the group around St Martin. The earliest documentary evidence which relates to the work now in the Prado Museum is an inventory of the collection of a Spanish aristocrat, Luis Francisco de la Cerda, the ninth duke of Medinaceli; the inventory was drawn up after the duke's death in the early eighteenth century: he is assumed to have acquired the painting in Italy around the end of the seventeenth century.
The Prado has another work by this artist, The Triumph of Death. BBC news story Close-up view, New York Times
The Wedding Dance
The Wedding Dance is a 1566 oil-on-panel painting by Pieter Bruegel the Elder. Owned by the museum of the Detroit Institute of Arts in Detroit, the work was discovered by its director in England in 1930, brought to Detroit, it is believed to be one of a set of three Bruegel works from around the same time, The Wedding Dance, The Peasant Wedding and The Peasant Dance. The painting depicts 125 wedding guests; as was customary in the Renaissance period, the brides wore men wore codpieces. Voyeurism is depicted throughout the entire art work. Pieter Bruegel the Elder completed The Wedding Dance in 1566, it is believed to have been lost for many years, until discovered at a sale in London in 1930 by William R. Valentiner, the director of the Museum Detroit Institute of Arts at the time. Valentiner paid $35,075 for The Wedding Dance through a city appropriation, it is still owned by the museum. The Peasant Wedding and The Peasant Dance are by Bruegel which share the same wedding theme and elements and were painted in the same period in Bruegel's years.
They are considered to be a trilogy of works by Bruegel. In all three of the paintings, there are pipers playing the pijpzak, they exude pride and vanity, for example in The Peasant Dance the man seated next to the pijpzak player is wearing a peacock feather in his hat. Robert L. Bonn, an author, described these trilogy of works as "superb examples" of anthropological paintings, states that "in three genre paintings Bruegel stands in marked contrast both to painters of his day and many others who followed." Thomas Craven summarises The Wedding Dance as "One of several celebrations of the joys of gluttony painted by Brueghel with bursting vitality". Walter S. Gibson, an art historian views the paintings as a "sermon condemning gluttony" and "an allegory of the Church abandoned by Christ." The popular painting shows a group of 125 wedding guests wearing clothing from the times, presented in the canvas in an chaotic way in an outdoor party surrounded by trees. The brides wore black as it was the Renaissance period and the men wore codpieces, which were an important part of their clothing at the time.
Voyeurism is shown throughout the entire work amongst all of the people. Each guest's positioning in the painting has its own meaning. In the foreground there is a dancer wearing the colours of that time period and there are many peasants in that area. In the middle there is the bride dancing with her father. On the right of the work, there is a musician playing on a pijpzak, watching the dance from the side. Judging by the writing utensils hanging on his belt, he is a writer or a middle-class painter. Behind him is a hanging tablecloth decorated with a crown and beneath it is the bride's table. Before her table, money collectors can be seen digging trenches while the wedding guests sit down and eat; the movements of the people show that their behaviour is inappropriate or a caricature of rustic buffoonery, but its representation of fertility and reproduction is presented in a joyful manner. Indeed, the painting reflects a degree of ambiguity in that it can both be seen as an attack on the stereotypical oversexed behaviour of the lower orders as well as evoking a comical picture.
In the sixteenth century, when this was painted, dance was subject to a strict code and regarded by the authorities and church as a social evil. People could not swing their arms or legs or laugh too loud, as that would be considered a type of rudeness to many people; the painting therefore "expresses the peasants' liberation from the stricter limits of upper classes" by failing to adhere to the expected social standards of the times. The author of The Theme of Music in Northern Renaissance Banquet Scenes, Robert Quist, has said that the painting was part of a series of Seven Deadly Sins and Virtues and that the paintings "attest to moral devotions", he says "While dancing may appear innocuous or natural for peasants, it poses a palpable threat to the human soul. Its usefulness in characterizing the peasantry as wild and unruly undoubtedly derives from the moral opprobrium in which dancing was held by religious and civil authoriries alike. Orenstein, Nadine M. ed.. Pieter Bruegel the Elder: Drawings and Prints.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. ISBN 9780870999901. CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list The Wedding Dance, Detroit Institute of Arts
Massacre of the Innocents (Bruegel)
Several oil-on-oak-panel versions of The Massacre of the Innocents were painted by 16th-century Netherlandish painters Pieter Bruegel the Elder and his son Pieter Brueghel the Younger. The work translates the Biblical account of the Massacre of the Innocents into a winter scene in the Netherlands in the prelude to the Dutch Revolt against Spanish rule known as the Eighty Years' War. What is now thought to be the only version by Bruegel the Elder is in the British Royal Collection. Holy Roman Emperor Rudolph II ordered. Many other versions are attributed to Pieter Breughel the Younger, with different art historians listing as many as 7 or 14 versions, including leading examples in the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna, in the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium in Brussels, in the National Museum of Art of Romania in Bucharest. Pieter Breughel the Younger painted his own different composition of the Massacre of the Innocents: one example is held by the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium.
The painting depicts an event described in the Gospel of Saint Matthew 2:16-18 in the New Testament of the Bible: after King Herod was told by the Magi of the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem, he ordered his soldiers to kill all of the infant children in Bethlehem below the age of 2 years. The Massacre of the Innocents is commemorated on 28 December in the Catholic and Anglican church calendars, as the fourth day of Christmastide. Bruegel translated the scene to a 16th-century Netherlandish village, where the Flemish villagers are attacked by Spanish soldiers and German mercenaries as a commentary on the behaviour of occupying Spanish troops in the prelude to the Dutch Revolt against Spanish rule known as the Eighty Years' War; the severe winter of 1564-5 may have inspired the snow-covered scene, with icicles hanging from the eaves and a pond covered with a thick layer of ice: the deep winter inspired his 1565 painting The Hunters in the Snow. The version by Bruegel the Elder in the Royal Collection was acquired by Holy Roman Emperor Rudolph II and was in Prague by about 1600.
Rudolph disliked the graphic scene, which depicted many infants being slaughtered by soldiers carrying his own imperial heraldry of the double-headed eagle, had the children painted over with details – small objects including food and animals – so that it became a scene of plunder not a massacre of babies. The overpainting became apparent during conservation work in 1998, Lorne Campbell identified the painting in the Royal Collection as the original version by Bruegel the Elder; this version was one of many paintings from the imperial collection looted from Prague Castle by a Swedish army in 1648, at the end of the Thirty Years' War: it was in the collection of Queen Christina by 1652, came into the British Royal Collection when it was acquired by Charles II in exile at Breda in 1660. It is signed "BRVEGEL" 1565-67, measures 102 × 155 centimetres; the version at the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna was long thought to be the original by Pieter Bruegel the Elder. It was in the Neue Burg in the early 17th century, given to the Gemäldegalerie in 1748.
It is now thought to be Pieter Breughel the Younger, or his studio. As it has not been overpainted, it shows the original details of the massacre, it is signed "BRVEG". A version signed by Breughel the Younger and dated 1593, one of his earliest known paintings, is held by the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Lons-le-Saunier. Another copy signed ". BRVEGEL. 15.." was in Sweden, in the Hermitage Museum, before being sold by the early Soviet government. It was sold in Paris in 1979, at Sotheby's in 2005, at Christie's in 2012 for £1.8m, as by Pieter Breughel the Younger. A further version at the National Museum of Art of Romania in Bucharest is signed'P. BRVEGEL'. A version sold at Sotheby's in 2009, with provenance in Belgium and the Netherlands attributed to Pieter Breughel the Younger, was sold for £4.6m. Like several of Bruegel's paintings, such as the Netherlandish Proverbs and Children's Games, the painting includes many parallel narrative scenes in a larger composition. Working from the church in the background towards the foreground: a mounted soldier with a lance guards a bridge.
To the left, a man tries to hide a child. Moving forward and further towards the left, one soldier urinates against a wall. A group of four villagers mourns nearby. Moving right, towards the centre of the painting, a lone woman stands grieving over her dead baby lying with blood spilled on the snow, a couple ask a soldier to take their daughter not their baby son. A crowd of villagers surround and confront a red-coated soldier standing over a dead baby, a seated woman grieves with her dead baby on her lap. Continuing to the right, at the centre of the painting, a group of Spanish soldiers in black armour stab with spears at a group of babies in front of a large group of mounted soldiers with lances and wearing black armour. One of the mounted soldiers may be holding a
The Peasant Wedding
The Peasant Wedding is a 1567 genre painting by the Dutch Renaissance painter and printmaker Pieter Bruegel the Elder, one of his many depicting peasant life. It is now in the Kunsthistorisches Vienna. Pieter Bruegel the Elder enjoyed painting peasants and different aspects of their lives in so many of his paintings that he has been called Peasant-Bruegel, but he was in fact a sophisticated intellectual, many of his paintings have a symbolic meaning and a moral aspect; the bride is with a paper-crown hung above her head. She is wearing a crown on her head, she is sitting passively, not participating in the eating or drinking taking place around her; the Bridegroom is not in attendance of the wedding feast in accordance to Flemish custom. The feast is in a barn in the summertime; the plates are carried on a door off its hinges. The main food was bread and soup. Other features of the scene include two pipers playing the pijpzak, an unbreeched boy in the foreground licking a plate, the wealthy man at the far right feeding a dog by putting bread on the bench, a mysterious extra foot seen under the load of dishes being carried by the two men in the right foreground.
The scene is claimed to depict an accurate portrayal of the 16th-century way of celebrating a peasant wedding. There has been much conjecture as to the identity of the groom in this painting. Gilbert Highet has argued that the groom is the man in the centre of the painting, wearing a dark coat and seen in profile, or the ill-bred son of a wealthy couple, seen against the far wall, to the right of the bride, eating with a spoon, same as Gustav Glück, it has been suggested that according to contemporary custom, the groom is not seated at the table but may be the man pouring out beer. Or he may be according to the same custom serving the food instead. According to this theory, the groom is the young man wearing a red cap, serving his guests the food, handing out plates to his guests. In a Freudian vein, Rudy Rucker speculates:... the groom is the man in the red hat, passing food towards the bride. The motion of a husband, to penetrate the wife. Note that near him are no less than three phallic symbols pointing towards the wife: the man’s arm, the knife on the table, the salt-cellar on the table.
Note that at the end of the man’s arm is an ellipse of an angle-seen dish, oriented and located in the right location to represent the bride’s vagina. Some authors have suggested that the groom is not included in the painting. Van der Elst speculated that this could be the depiction of an old Flemish proverb, like some of "There is an old Flemish proverb:'It is a poor man, not able to be at his own wedding.' That seems to be the case here." Some argued. Lindsay and Bernard Huppé speculated that the painting was a Christian allegory, symbolizing corruption, depicting the corrupted Church, supposed to be the bride of Christ, but the groom has not appeared to claim his corrupt bride; the painting was parodied in Asterix in Belgium. Another parody was the postcard for the Belgian entry in the Eurovision Song Contest 1979. Orenstein, Nadine M. ed.. Pieter Bruegel the Elder: Drawings and Prints; the Metropolitan Museum of Art. ISBN 9780870999901. CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list Media related to The Peasant Wedding at Wikimedia Commons
The Fight Between Carnival and Lent
The Fight Between Carnival and Lent is an oil-on-panel work painted by Pieter Bruegel the Elder in 1559. This painting depicts a common festival of the period, it presents the contrast between two sides of contemporary life, as can be seen by the appearance of the inn on the left side—for enjoyment, the church on the right side—for religious observance. The busy scene depicts a beer drinking scene near the inn. At the centre is a well, showing the coming together of different parts of the community, other scenes show a fish stall and two competing floats. A battle enacted between the figures Carnival and Lent was an important event in community life in early modern Europe, representing the transition between two different seasonal cuisines: livestock, not to be wintered was slaughtered, meat was in good supply; as the period of Lent commenced, with its enforced abstinence and the concomitant spiritual purification in preparation for Easter, the butcher shops closed and the butchers traveled into the countryside to purchase cattle for the spring.
Bruegel's painting is rich in symbolisms that have been long studied. It is read as the triumph of Lent, since the figure of Carnival seems to bid farewell with his left hand and his eyes lifted to the sky. A more generalised meaning may be the illustration of Bruegel's belief that human activities are motivated by folly and self-seeking; the painting defies any linear narrative, but one may divide it into two sections: the popular and the religious. The scene is set in a town's market square, with the figure of Carnival personified by a fat man who led a procession through the town and presided over a large feast. In some traditions an effigy of the Carnival figure was burned at the end of the celebrations. In Bruegel's painting the figure is a large man riding a beer barrel with a pork chop attached to its front end, he is wearing a huge meat pie as a headdress. The pouch of knives at his belt indicates that he is a butcher—the guild of butchers traditionally provided the meat for the carnival feast so his place at the procession's heart is apt.
The man behind the barrel is dressed in yellow, connected with deceit, he is followed by a female figure, carrying on her head a table with bread and waffles on it. In one hand she holds in the other a candle, again allegorical symbols for deceit. Beside her is a lute-player, a frequent symbol of Lutheranism; the Lutherans still celebrated the Carnival. A tavern filled with drinkers and onlookers watch the performance of a popular farce known as The Dirty Bride. At the street crossing a group of cripples have come out to beg, while behind them, led by a bagpiper, a procession of lepers walks past. Lent's half of the picture is dominated by abstinence and piety, with people drawing water from the well, giving alms to the poor and the sick, going to church; the church itself is the dominant building from which queues of black figures emerge from their prayers. Lady Lent in the foreground, garbed like a nun, is sitting on a cart drawn by a monk and a nun, looks gaunt and thin, with her followers feeding on bread and biscuits.
Lady Lent's wagon contains traditional Lenten foods, pretzels and mussels. Just inside the entrance to the church a veiled statue is visible—it was customary in Roman Catholic churches to cover up all works of art at Lent until Easter Sunday when the carved and painted figures of saints would be unveiled once more, "brought back to life like the Saviour himself." In Bruegel's time, when the Protestant Reformation was surging, many of the old customs were under threat. The Roman Catholic attachment to Lenten rites was criticised by the Protestant reformers and the spirit of carnival was viewed with suspicion on both sides of the religious divide; the background is dominated by people working with food: women preparing Lenten fish, men carrying wine from the inn and a woman making waffles. At the back of the picture, other festivities are going on with a bonfire, dancing figures and beggars spread across the whole scenery. Bruegel produced this painting from a bird's eye view, as if he wished to stay out of any polemic of the time, but he was in the habit of placing a symbolic detail in the middle of the picture, in this case it is a married couple with their backs to the viewer, guided by a fool with a burning torch.
Many critics have identified this couple as a symbol for the common masses. The man carries a strange bulge under his clothes, giving the impression of a hunchback or a hidden sack; this is associated with the allegorical figure of Egotism, represented as carrying a sack on his back, this meaning to express man's own faults and weaknesses. It is read as how the masses caused intolerance towards dissenters because of their inability to think objectively; the woman's main characteristic is the unlit lantern hanging by her belt. She is guided by a fool, not by reason; the burning torch the latter carries is symbolic of dispute and destruction. Beside the trio is a rooting pig connoting damage and destruction. Battle Between Carnival and Lent Calvinism Catholic Church Carnival Lutheranism Andrew Cunningham, Ole Peter Grell, The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse: Religion, War and Death in Reformation Europe, Cambridge University Press, 2000, ISBN 0-521-46701-2, page 220 Thomas A. Fudge, Daniel Warner and the Paradox of Religious Democracy in Nineteenth-Century, Edwin Mellen Press, 1998, ISBN 0-7734-8249-0, pages 14 – 16 G. Martin.
Bruegel. London: Bracken Books, ISBN 0-946