BRUEGHEL, Jan the Elder
(b. ca. 1568, Bruxelles, d. 1625, Antwerpen)

Orpheus in the Underworld

1594
Oil on copper, 27 x 36 cm
Galleria Palatina (Palazzo Pitti), Florence

Known for his flower paintings, Jan, like his father Pieter the Elder, also made underworld landscapes, reviving a recurrent taste for the hallucinatory. The musician Orpheus is attempting to persuade Hades and Proserpina to release Euridice, his lover. His backward glance foreshadows the tale's ending.

Suggested listening (streaming mp3, 7 minutes):
Cristoph Willibald Gluck: Orfeo, Act I, Orpheus' aria in G Major