Art Appreciation Exhibition - Paper Example

Published: 2021-07-27
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George Washington University
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Bruegel the Elder, Pieter (c.1525-1569)

Bruegel the Elder remains the most significant painter of the Dutch and Flemish Renaissance period and the 16th century. He continues to be an authority in landscape and peasant illustrations. Influenced primarily by religion, Bruegels works have Netherlandish aspects; he never painted any portraits. Nonetheless, his art reinvigorates the medieval ideologies through lightened manuscripts often exemplifying the different agricultural seasons. Additionally, the use of oil medium is prominent in his work. Hailing from a family of painters, Pieter stood out as the Peasant Bruegel due to his inclinations to making illustrations of farming activities. Consequentially, the role of this paper remains to explore the various works of Bruegel divulging deeper on the elements of art applied.

1. Netherlandish Proverbs (1559)


Figure 1 Netherlandish Proverbs

The painting comprises oil spread on oak panels and falls under the Netherlandish movement. The art is currently housed by the Gemaldegalerie SMPK, Berlin. The primary role of the painting is not to illustrate the wisdom of man but his stupidity, hence the satirical name proverbs. The form in the picture reveals small-sized men and animals working on selected aspects of acumen or absurdity. This art is an impression of a contemporary society run by different ideologies and beliefs aside from reverence of protestants religion.

The color scheme is composed of vivid tones of red and blue marks indicating the starting point of the painting. A woman at the center of the picture appears to be donning a blue cap, signifying her infidelity. Nonetheless, it remains imperative to note that Bruegels use of color in this painting is not only breathtaking but also psychological. The idea of the coloring borrows closely to the illustrations of Hieronymus Bosch in the Last Judgment, that is, the scheme of color does not influence the positioning and distribution of the figures and characters in the painting (ENCYCLOPEDIA OF ART EDUCATION).

2. Mad Meg (Dulle Griet) (1562)


Figure  2 Mad Meg

The painting belongs to the Fantasy Religious painting genre. Composed of oil painted on wood panels, the landscape exemplifies characteristics of the Netherlandish Renaissance. Additionally, it is worth noting that Mad Meg is one of the most prominent arts of Northern Europe. The main subject of the painting is a Mad Meg armed with a sword and cutlery conducting pillage at the mouth to hell. Therefore, form in the illustrations remains clear that it is a woman with a sword and knives. Additionally, the background is filled with tiny creatures that can pass for demons.

Markedly, value and color in the picture create a subtle and somber mood. The colors used are dark and not bright implying sin and Satan. Additionally, since the illustration is also inspired by Hieronymus Bosch painting of the Last Judgment, Mad Meg is the perfect Bosch-like monster that rules hell (ENCYCLOPEDIA OF ART EDUCATION).

3. Tower of Babel (1563).


Figure 3 Tower of Babel

The Tower of Babel of 1563 is an oil on wood panel painting housed by Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna. The genre of the art is Religious history based on the Bible story of the tallest tower ever made by men as described in Genesis Chapter 11 verse 1 to 9.

The form analysis of the illustration reveals a group of men at the left-hand side engaging in a conversation. Additionally, the primary subject of the paper is the tower with several stories. The person addressing the men is Nimrod, just before they got the worst hell treatment compared to Dante.

The picture is a symbol of human hubris. Additionally, the spiraling ramps show the various levels of intelligence through the Renaissance age. Furthermore, the masons and engineers on sight of the structure is a clear illustration of the futility of human effort. Nonetheless, the line is explicitly used in the painting to show the difference between ground level and upper floors of the tower. More specifically, the form of the picture resembles an inverted Dantes vision of Hell (ENCYCLOPEDIA OF ART EDUCATION).

4. Hunters in Snow (1565).


Figure 4 Hunters in Snow

Hunters in Snow is an oil on oak panel painting finished in 1565. It is a landscape painting belonging to the Netherlandish Renaissance. This art is responsible for securing the position of Bruegel as one of the best landscape painters. The art is currently housed at the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna.

Lines are used in the paintings to display spears and trees. These weapons and tree trunks have a one-dimensional point compared to the other tracks that result to the form. Similarly, several dogs are displayed to exist on the path in the painting, and two hunters remain the primary subjects of the paper. The trees give the image painted a frame-like feeling (ENCYCLOPEDIA OF ART EDUCATION).

The space of the paintings is an icy village with a few huts and trees. Nonetheless, the color scheme is white highlighting the winter and snow predominant in the north of Europe. Additionally, unlike other paintings by Bruegel the detail in Hunters in Snow is a keen characteristic.

5. Massacre of the Innocent (1565 and 1567).


Figure 5 Massacre of the innocent

There are two versions of this painting, one housed in Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, whereas the other is at British Royal Collection. The picture is a re-illustration of the Bible story on the killing of the newborns by King Herod. However, in this new case, Bruegels main attention features a bunch of cavalrymen attacking a Flemish village and killing the newborns; a narrative of most of Flanders land under the Spaniards.

The form of Spaniards is visible on horsebacks with Flemish men trying to retaliate. Their spears are adorned with a line, given the one-dimensional nature of the object. Therefore, the imaging of the painting is not only captivating but relevant as Bruegel captures an old Bible story in a modern context (ENCYCLOPEDIA OF ART EDUCATION).

The space in the painting is filled with gloom and pain. Mothers are screaming for their slain children as horses walk down the streets. Additionally, the village is not equipped to handle the raiders since the able men are few.


A common trend in the works of Bruegel is the precise forms. Unlike other painters, Bruegel uses fewer instances of lines with many impressions on the way. Additionally, the color scheme applied in his work remains remarkably intuitive of the atmosphere and mood of the situation. His primary medium is oils on wood panel, preferably oak tree. The most dominant themes explained by the works of Bruegel include protestant religion, colonialism, sin, wisdom, stupidity, and family. Additionally, farming seems to be a predominant theme in the Netherlandish Proverbs. The works of Bruegel exemplify a talented painter with both landscape and genre paintings capabilities. Arguably, Hieronymus Bosch and Dantes impression of hell remains a high motivation for the Bruegels painting.

Works Cited

ENCYCLOPEDIA OF ART EDUCATION. "Netherlandish Proverbs, Pieter Bruegel: Analysis, Interpretation." 2017,

ENCYCLOPEDIA OF ART EDUCATION. "Mad Meg, Pieter Bruegel: Interpretation, Analysis." 2017,

ENCYCLOPEDIA OF ART EDUCATION. "Tower of Babel, Pieter Bruegel: Analysis, Interpretation." 2017,

ENCYCLOPEDIA OF ART EDUCATION. "Hunters in the Snow, Pieter Bruegel the Elder: Interpretation, Analysis." 2017,

ENCYCLOPEDIA OF ART EDUCATION. "Massacre of the Innocents, Pieter Bruegel: Analysis, Interpretation." 2017,


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