Saturday, February 6, 2016

Art in 5 minutes: Bruegel the Elder

Peasant Wedding

The Flemish painter, Pieter Bruegel the Elder (c.1525-69) was  born in Belgium at the end of the high  Renaissance .  To put this in an historical context Michael Angelo had  already created his master pieces, and the Reformation was rapidly spreading throughout north of Europe .  The religious theme was becoming less prevalent.  Artists had the opportunity to expand and show their interests in portraiture, mythology, landscape and  other genre.
At first glance, Bruegel 's subject matter concentrates on the interrelationship between Man and Nature.  He specialized in folk scenes depicting jovial peasants with  bright and vivid manners.  One might almost expects to hear  laughter and music floating in the air.  One finds more evidence of such work when his biographer underlines his decision to accept a secular commission (1565)  at a time of great turmoil between the Catholic Church and the Reformation.  The substantial commission consisted of the depiction of seasons throughout the year, out of the twelves paintings only five survived to this day.  However a keener eyes  will notice Bruegel's constant sarcasm hidden in his paintings.  The viewer can expect to search for social and religious commentary waiting to be discovered.  Bruegel didn't always avoid the direct approach of  Religion , he painted a series of Proverbs from the Bible in 1568  , his most famous work being "the Blind leading the Blind" .  One can imagine that prudence would have been a necessity to approach the subject when different sensibilities were at their highest.
For a younger audience, to approach Bruegels' work , one might want to consider his secular work.  While  more mature students might appreciate and delight on decoding his social comments on the rest of his work.
 A bientot!

The Peasant Dance
Hunters in the Snow