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Sad Fight Between Carnival and Lent by Bruegel

Sad Fight Between Carnival and Lent by Bruegel

The Fight Between Carnival and Lent. Pieter Bruegel the elder, Oil on wood. 1559. Vienna, Austria. Museum of Fine Arts

Sad Fight Between Carnival and Lent by Bruegel. The custom to hold carnival procession and presentation on Shrove Tuesday has lived up to our days. In medieval Europe, it was one of the most joyful and favorite holidays. In fact, after it began forty days of Lent, during which, according to Christian tradition, it is impossible to arrange any amusements. Sad holiday depicted in the painting by Bruegel. Fires of the Inquisition and the Spanish rule in the Netherlands did not allow reckless fun.

Sad Fight Between Carnival and Lent by Bruegel

The Fight Between Carnival and Lent. Pieter Bruegel the elder (detail)

Many residents of the city behave like on a normal weekday. Woman cleaning a window, a loader carrying a heavy bag. Stretches from the church mournful procession of people in dark clothes. From the well two old women dragg a low box on wheels. Bruegel painted a dead body (later the owner of the picture covered the corpse with paints, apparently in order to make the picture look less gloomy). Funeral, beggars, the procession of penitents – that’s the background for The Fight Between Carnival and Lent.

Meanwhile, the winner in this not yet managed to start a comic battle is already clear. Sullenly ruddy face of Man depicting Shrove Tuesday. And his skinny opponent, playing the role of Lent, on the contrary, seems quite happy and confident in his abilities.

In fact, Pieter Bruegel the Elder created his paintings in an era of great turmoil the great Dutch painter. All of Europe was gripped by religious wars between Catholics and Protestants. In the Netherlands, under the authority of the Spanish king, blazing fires of the Inquisition. Behind the walls of every city, every village on the outskirts were the gallows with the bodies of heretics.

Sad Fight Between Carnival and Lent by Bruegel

Cripples and beggars

On his paintings – a lot of cripples and beggars and almost no smiling people. The holiday appears to be gloomy and tense. Hangman on the background of a peaceful landscape – one of the most common themes in the works of Bruegel.

About the artist very little is known, even the date and place of birth are called ‘about’ (about 1525, the province of Limburg, near the town of Bray). Some researchers, noting the precision with which Bruegel portrayed the life of a Dutch village, explained that by his peasant origins. Others, however, argued that the only citizen could be so interested in rural life.

Both the artist’s sons, Pieter Bruegel the Younger and Jan Bruegel, continued their father’s work and became well-known painters.

Sad Fight Between Carnival and Lent by Bruegel

Source: Album “Painting in Northern Europe. Bruegel”. Russian encyclopedic Association, Moscow, 2002