Bruegel year was celebrated in style at auction with a festive painting by Pieter, which garnered a spanking €1,152,000.
The bride was in black, but certainly had a high old time on 13 June... She drew all eyes in the world of Old Master painting as the central figure in this oil on panel by Pieter II Bruegel, aka the Younger (1564-1636), when the open-air bridal dance cavorted up to €1,152,000. The excellent exhibition currently on show at the Musée de Flandre in Cassel, accompanied by an equally indispensable book by Sandrine Vézilier-Dussart, chief curator of the museum, provides all the keys to understanding the Bruegel revolution. Pieter Bruegel the Elder (ca. 1525/1530-1569) did not invent the theme of the peasant fair in painting – its roots lay in courtly art and Dürer's German engravings –, but he raised it to a new level in the 1560s, making it fashionable for several centuries. The revolutionary aspect lay in his use of a new visual language half-way between the moralistic and the entertaining. The tone is mocking, but always benevolent. "Bruegel's dances sweep everyone along, and even if they depict only peasants, they have a universal feel to them," as we read in the book. As many of the master's works have disappeared, it is thanks to his followers that we know them, mainly his two sons – particularly Pieter II, who inundated the art market of the time with replicas. But in the end, very few of these copies feature fairs and weddings, making this rediscovery a vitally important one. It had been hidden away in a private French collection since the early 20th century.