Bruegel Paintings

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The most Famous Masterpieces of the Artist

Oksana Kopenkina, art analyst, founder of the Arts Diary & Pad website

Peter Brueghel the Elder. The Fall of Icarus. 1558

Pieter Bruegel the Elder (1525/30 – 1569) is often called the successor to Jerome Bosch. Yes, at first glance, some of their artworks are similar. Bruegel, like Bosch, created crowded canvases. But they are as different as Malevich and Chagall. Both are avant-garde artists. But one is about squares, the other is about love. Bosch is a medieval surrealist. He has a lot of monsters from terrible dreams. Bruegel is a realist. He portrayed ordinary people, townspeople, beggars. Strange creatures in his paintings are a rarity. Bosch has refined, delicate figures. Brueghel has big-shouldered peasants. In this, Bruegel was more likely influenced by Michelangelo than Bosch. Bosch “talks” about the fear of the fall. Bruegel is about human stupidity and the futility of life.

There are too many differences to put Bosch and Brueghel in the same row.

Here are just a few of Brueghel’s masterpieces. They will help you understand such a unique painter as Peter Brueghel the Elder.

The Fall of Icarus. 1558.

The painting is called “The Fall of Icarus.” But where is Icarus actually? In the foreground is a plowman. A little further away is a shepherd with sheep. And also the ship. In the background are the sea and mountains.

Oh yes, in the lower right corner between the fisherman and the ship – Icarus fell into the sea. He was almost immersed in water. Only his legs are still visible. And a few feathers are spinning around.

Why do we see such a neglect of the main character?

It is believed that Bruegel thus illustrated the popular wisdom “No plow will stop while someone dies.”

Bruegel portrayed that no one noticed the death of the young man. Neither a fisherman, nor a plowman, nor a shepherd. None of them quit their occupation. The ship also sailed past. Such indifference of the world to the tragedy of one person is discouraging.

Such was the world of Bruegel.

The Tower of Babel

The Tower of Babel incredibly combines panoramic and miniature painting. Details of the picture are simply amazing.

You can see that there are a lot of temporary buildings along the walls. But judging by the female figures and the hanging clothes, the workers’ families have already moved to them. It already looks more like an anthill than a majestic tower.

Don’t you find it strange that construction is going on at almost every level? It would seem that the lower levels should have already been completed, and work should only be done at the top. But no, work goes everywhere. Obviously, people understand each other a little. Therefore, they can’t agree on how to build a tower.

But at the very least, they manage to maintain the integrity of the building. And even live in it with their families.

Despite the misunderstanding of each other, ultimately, we manage to save our fragile human world. All in patches, all in scaffolding. But it continues to stand.

Hunters in the snow

Bruegel the Elder. Hunters in the snow. 1565

“Hunters in the Snow” is one of the main masterpieces of the Renaissance. What is so special about it?

The space of the picture is slightly concave inward. As if painted on the inside of a giant bowl. The effect of incredible, sucking depth.

Of course, Brueghel purposely distorts the perspective. Otherwise, everything would not fit in such a limited space.

The picture blows quiet joy. Small cares and games of people combined with grandiose mountains and snowy valleys. The world is not at all hostile to man. On the contrary, if you respect his greatness and adapt, he will give you everything you need.

An unexpected philosophy for the time in which Bruegel lived. America was already discovered. People increasingly became convinced of their superiority. And less and less they thought about unity with nature.

That was Bruegel. His personal worldview was different from the generally accepted.

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