BROUWER, Adriaen
(b. ca. 1605, Oudenaerde, d. 1638, Antwerpen)

Peasants Fighting

Oil on wood, 33 x 49 cm
Alte Pinakothek, Munich

Dutch realism was a matter not merely of imitative techniques but also of everyday themes: people and objects, houses and streets that might be found in the Republic. Comic paintings seem especially deliberate in their concern with thematic as well as pictorial realism. Like comedies, comic images in theory should depict people as they are, or even worse as they are. Painters fulfilled this requirement in paintings of down-to-earth, lowly themes, of peasants and burghers guzzling, drinking, laughing, dancing, and groping. In theme, these paintings recall comic texts and plays that linger on similar scenes and motifs rather than presenting a tight narrative. A painting of boors fighting by Adriaen Brouwer may seem uncommonly lifelike, with its violent action, gruff faces, poorly dressed peasants or urban dissolutes, and dishevelled tavern interior.

Suggested listening (streaming mp3, 26 minutes):
Johann Sebastian Bach: Cantata BWV 212 (Bauernkantate)