Pieter Bruegel the Elder (Or, that crazy Flemish guy)

Dull Gret

Dutch Proverbs

The Fall of the Rebel Angels

Massacre of the Innocents

Tower of Babel

I love it when an artist has clearly staked out a niche, and then makes it entirely their own. The works of Pieter Bruegel the Elder are fantastic in this way- he has a formula, and he has made it near perfection, but flexible enough that he can warp the typical scene- a landscape with many figures and lots of action and perspective- into whatever surreal experience he wants us to feel.

He was a “Flemish Renaissance” artist. What that means is that he lived somewhere in the Southern  Netherlands or Northern Belgium and spoke a dialect of Dutch particular to the area. Flanders was a big trading city and usually occupied by the Spanish or other invaders. This meant, however, that it was possible for many artists and forms of art to trickle in because of the outside influences as well as a result of their trading status.

Regardless, Bruegel is a badass. I love his scenes- they’re like Hieronymous Bosch with their creepy vibes trickling into our blood and sort of making us wonder what was going on in his mind. I love his attention to detail, and while it can be exhausting going through his paintings it’s because everything is vibrant and pulsating with energy. Even the peasants painted far off ice-skating on a winter day make you want to be there.

All images courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

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