[an error occurred while processing this directive]


Picture of the Month

For health reasons, I can't work on my pages as much as I would like.
Therefore, I won't be able to deliver a new Picture of the Month at least until December. Sorry.



Peasant Dance, Pieter Breughel the Elder, c. 1568

Unlike most paintings of the 16th century and before, Breughel's works often depict simple country folk. The clothing we see here is in transition from the middle ages to the baroque. The man with the bagpipe, for instance, wears a medieval-style white cap and a very 16th century beret on top, a short jacket, close-fitting trousers with a codpiece over tights (or breeches?) and white stockings. A man in the background, between the heads of the couple on the right, is wearing a similar short-jacket-with-codpiece-tights style. The man in the black doublet looks much more renaissance than that; the doublet over tights is reminiscent of the wide, pleated jackets of late 15th century Florence and Burgundy.

The woman to the right is wearing a dress that is fully lined with a yellow-dyed fabric - or at least all of the skirt and the lower part of the sleeves is lined in yellow. The skirt is hitched up and tucked into the narrow belt, thus exhibiting a brwon petticoat. A bag - probably for money and the main necessities - dangles from her waistband along with a key. The presence of the key tells us that she is mistress of her own household, i.e. married. The man leading her by the hand probably is her husband.

As always when looking at contemporary paintings, we should ask: Is this a depiction of real life, or has the artist's imagination run away with us? This question is especially important in the case of the pre-baroque eras (which teneded to be less realistic) and rural scenes (which tended to be romanticised). By and large, Breughel's paintings seem trustworthy, but I'd be wary of the details. Would a peasant woman really expend money on having a lining (!) fabric dyed in such a resplendent colour?


Pictures of the month archive

If you want to find older Pictures of the Month, use one of the above links to jump to a previous edition, and from there to yet older ones etc.

  [an error occurred while processing this directive]