A Rowdy Dance by Pieter II Bruegel the Younger

On 06 June 2019, by Anne Foster and Claire Papon

Here we have the elder son in the Bruegel family, Pieter II: a chronicler of his times who made open-air wedding scenes his trademark. This one dates from 1615.

Pieter II Brueghel the Younger (1564-1636), Wedding Dance in the Open Air, 1615, oil on panel, 40.6 x 56.6 cm.
Estimate: €600,000/700,000

With this boisterous scene, it's obvious why the artist earned the nickname of "Hell" Bruegel… He produced his first painting on the subject in 1607, following on with thirty other versions until 1626. In contrast with his younger brother, Jan "Velvet" Bruegel (1568-1625), the wedding scenes of this artist are far less civilised. In a wooded glade, couples dance and amuse themselves to the sound of bagpipes – an instrument considered at the time to have erotic powers. Only one man in a dark cloak seems impervious to the general atmosphere of elation. The bride can be recognised from her uncovered hair (her marriage was the only occasion when an adult woman was allowed out without a headdress). Vibrant blues and reds respond to the whites and yellows. A great deal of Pieter Bruegel the Younger's work was inspired by the iconography established by his father, Pieter Bruegel the Elder (1510/20-1569). Born in Brussels, he lived mostly in Antwerp, where he undoubtedly inherited his father's studio, and copied a large number of his works, helping to make them well-known. This year, the Musée de Flandre in Cassel has appropriately decided to celebrate parties and fairs (until 14 July), marking the 450th anniversary of Pieter Bruegel the Elder's death.  

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