Monday, 7 December 2015

From Bosch to Bruegel – Uncovering Everyday Life

The exhibition From Bosch to Bruegel – Uncovering Everyday Life is currently underway at the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. The exhibition displays a survey of works from the pioneer of genre painting Hieronymus Bosch to the peasant painter Pieter Bruegel the Elder.

Sixteenth century Europe was an era in which the authority of the Catholic Church was losing ground, and new views of the relationship between God and man based on humanism and religious reformation were being introduced. At the time, people were also being liberated from the restrictions of the Bible by movements such as Calvinism. The genre painters depicted that era and its people with striking acerbity: peasants, mercenaries, beggars and loose women, people gorging on food, seeped in liquor, sex-obsessed and lazy, and henpecked husbands. The urbanite purchasers of these works mocked in particular the peasants as “ignorant fools.”

Pieter Bruegel the Elder’s The Peasant and the Birdnester (fig.1) portrays a man about to fall out of a tree he has climbed to steal a bird’s nest, and a peasant pointing to the man and laughing at him. The peasant is laughing at the blunder of another, but he himself doesn’t realize he is one step away from falling into a river. At first glance the piece appears to be portraying the stupidity of a peasant, but it is said that when Bruegel created this piece, he had in mind the satirical In Praise of Folly by Erasmus that parodies philosophers as simple-minded people who don’t notice the dangers ahead of them.

The genre painters often depicted tax collectors, bankers and lawyers dressed up in outmoded fancy clothes, appearing far removed from everyday life. As greedy, money-obsessed people, they were the objects of derision.

Bosch to Bruegel – Uncovering Everyday Life Until January 17, 2016 (Closed Mondays)

Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen

Museumpark 18-20
3015 CX Rotterdam
the Netherlands
31 20 570 5200

Opening times:

Tue-Sun  11:00-17:00
5, 24, 31 Dec 11:00-16:00

Closed :

on Mondays (except Easter Monday and Whitmonday), 1 January, 27 April (Kingsday; in 2014 on 26 April) and 25 December. The museum closes at 4 pm on Saint Nicholas' night December 5th, Christmas Eve December 24th and New Year's Eve December 31st.