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March 29, 2022

s2e16 History of Prints Pieter Brueghel the Elder

s2e16 History of Prints Pieter Brueghel the Elder

Proverbs, virtues, and vices


In s2ep16, Ann Shafer and Tru Ludwig talk about the Protestant Reformation and the Catholic Counter Reformation that affected so much of the 16th century in Western Europe. The focus of the episode is Pieter Brueghel the Elder who developed a new vocabulary to talk about the lives of peasants, as well as lessons to live by. And don't forget those sins and sinners.

These are some of the weirdest scenarios and creatures meant to not only teach 16th-century Europeans about comportment as the continent was split in two (Catholic and Protestant), but also to reflect that chaos.

Why should it matter? One can see eerie parallels between the 16th century and today. The characters may change in this global play, but we are still fighting about free will versus autocracy.

Our shared visual culture, which comes down to us mainly via printed images, may lead us to a better understanding of ourselves and our commonalities. Perhaps together, we can change the narrative that we are destined to learn nothing from history.

Images discussed are below along with their credit/institution.

Episode image: Pieter van der Heyden (Netherlandish, c. 1525–1569), after Pieter Brueghel the Elder (Netherlandish, 1526/30–1569). Big Fish East Little Fish, 1557. Engraving. Sheet (trimmed to platemark): 9 x 11 5/8 in. (22.9 x 29.6 cm.). Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

 


Albrecht Dürer (German, 1471–1528). Memorial to the Peasants’ War, 1525.

Albrecht Dürer (German, 1471–1528). The Four Apostles, 1526. Oil on panel. Each: 215 x 76 cm. (84 5/8 x 30 in.). Alte Pinakothek, Munich.

Georg Pencz (German, c. 1500–1550). The Hunter Caught by the Hares, c. 1535–50. Woodcut and letterpress [text by Hans Sachs (German, 1494–1576]). Borderline: 25.5 x 39.3 cm. (10 1/16 x 15 1/2 in.); sheet: 54.5 x 39.5 cm. (21 7/17 x 15 9/16 in.). Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

Pieter Brueghel the Elder (Netherlandish, 1526/30–1569).  Self Portrait and Connoisseur, c. 1565. Pen and brown ink.  25.5 x 25.1 cm. (10 x 9 15/16 in.). Albertina, Vienna.

Pieter Brueghel the Elder (Netherlandish, 1526/30–1569). Netherlandish Proverbs, 1559. Oil on wood. 1172 x 1638 cm. Gemäldegalerie, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin.


Key chart to Netherlandish Proverbs by Pieter Brueghel the Elder.

Pieter Brueghel the Elder (Netherlandish, 1526/30–1569). The Wedding Dance, 1566. Oil on wood. 47 x 62 in. Detroit Institute of Arts, Detroit.  

Compositional diagram of Pieter Brueghel the Elder’s The Wedding Dance, 1566. Credit: Plum Street Music.

Jacopo Tintoretto (Italian, 1518–1594). The Last Supper, 1594–94. Oil on canvas. 365 x 568 cm. (144 x 224 in.). Basilica di San Giorgio Maggiore, Venice.

Pieter Brueghel the Elder (Netherlandish, 1526/30–1569). Hunters in Snow, 1565. Oil on wood. 117 × 162 cm. (46 × 63 3⁄4 in.). Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna.

Pieter Brueghel the Elder (Netherlandish, 1526/30–1569). Temptation of St. Anthony, 1556. Pen and brown ink. 21.5 x 32.6 cm. Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archeology, Oxford.  

Pieter Brueghel the Elder (Netherlandish, 1526/30–1569). Temptation of St. Anthony, 1556. Engraving. Sheet (trimmed to platemark): 10 5/16 x 13 3/8 in. (26.2 x 33.9 cm). Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

Hieronymus Bosch (Netherlandish, 1450–1516). The Garden of Earthly Delights, 1490–1500. Oil on wood (triptych). Overall: 328.2 x 185.8 cm. Museo del Prado, Madrid.

Pieter Brueghel the Elder (Netherlandish, 1526/30–1569). Big Fish East Little Fish, 1556. Brush and pen and gray and black ink. Albertina, Vienna.

Pieter van der Heyden (Netherlandish, c. 1525–1569), after Pieter Brueghel the Elder (Netherlandish, 1526/30–1569). Big Fish East Little Fish, 1557. Engraving. Sheet (trimmed to platemark): 9 x 11 5/8 in. (22.9 x 29.6 cm.). Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

Jan van Eyck (Netherlandish, 1390–1441). Ghent Altarpiece, 1430–32. Oil on wood. 350 x 461 cm. Cathedral of St. Bavo. Ghent.

Pieter van der Heyden (Netherlandish, c. 1525–1569), after Pieter Brueghel the Elder (Netherlandish, 1526/30–1569). Lust, from the series The Seven Deadly Sins, 1558. Engraving. Sheet (trimmed to platemark): 8 7/8 x 11 11/16 in. (22.6 x 29.7 cm.). National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.

Pieter van der Heyden (Netherlandish, c. 1525–1569), after Pieter Brueghel the Elder (Netherlandish, 1526/30–1569). Sloth, from the series The Seven Deadly Sins, 1558. Engraving. Sheet (trimmed to platemark): 8 15/16 x 11 5/8 in. (22.7 x 29.6 cm.). Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

Philips Galle (Netherlandish, 1537–1612), after Pieter Brueghel the Elder (Netherlandish, 1526/30–1569). Justice, from the series The Seven Virtues, 1559–60. Engraving. Sheet: 10 1/4 x 13 3/16 in. (26 x 33.5 cm); plate: 8 7/8 x 11 7/16 in. (22.5 x 29 cm). Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

Paolo Veronese (Italian, 1528–1588). Christ in the House of Levi, 1573. Oil on canvas. 560 × 1,309 cm. (18.37 × 42.95 ft.). Gallerie dell’Accademia, Venice.

Philips Galle (Netherlandish, 1537–1612), after Pieter Brueghel the Elder (Netherlandish, 1526/30–1569). Temperance, from the series The Seven Virtues, c. 1559–60. Engraving. Sheet: 9 5/8 x 12 5/16 in. (24.4 x 31.2 cm.); plate: 8 3/4 x 11 7/16 in. (22.3 x 29.1 cm.). Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

Pieter Brueghel the Elder (Netherlandish, 1526/30–1569). Landscape with Pilgrims at Emmaus, c. 1555–56. Etching and engraving. Sheet: 12 13/16 x 16 15/16 in. (32.5 x 43 cm.). Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

Pieter Brueghel the Elder (Netherlandish, 1526/30–1569). The Rabbit Hunt, 1560. Etching. Sheet (trimmed to platemark): 8 7/16 x 11 3/8 in. (21.4 x 28.9 cm.). Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

Pieter Brueghel the Elder (Netherlandish, 1526/30–1569). The Harvesters, 1565. Oil on wood. 116.5 x 159.5 cm. (45 7/8 x 62 7/8 in.). Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

Pieter Brueghel the Elder (Netherlandish, 1526/30–1569). The Marriage of Mopsus and Nisa, c. 1566. Pen and black ink on white-prepared, partially carved block of applewood. Overall: 10 3/8 x 16 3/8 x 1 1/8 in. (26.4 x 41.6 x 2.9 cm.). Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

Pieter Brueghel the Elder (Netherlandish, 1526/30–1569). The Marriage of Mopsus and Nisa, 1570. Engraving. Sheet: 8 3/4 x 11 3/8 in. (22.2 x 28.9 cm.). Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

 

Platemark is produced by Ann Shafer
Series one co-host: Ben Levy
Series two co-host: Tru Ludwig
Theme music:
Michael Diamond