BRUEGEL, Pieter the Elder
(b. ca. 1525, Brogel, d. 1569, Brussel)

The Fall of the Rebel Angels (detail)

Oil on oak
Musées Royaux des Beaux-Arts, Brussels

Painted in 1562, Bruegel's depiction of this subject again reveals his profound debt to Bosch, especially in the grotesque figures of the fallen angels, shown as half-human, half-animal monsters. The composition with a central figure placed among many smaller figures was favoured by Bruegel at this time not only in other paintings such as Dulle Griet but also in the series of engravings of the Vices and Virtues which he had just completed for the Antwerp publisher Hieronymus Cock. The Archangel Michael and his angels are shown by Bruegel in the act of driving the rebel angels from Heaven. Pride was the sin which caused the fall of Lucifer and his companions, and the conflict of good and evil, vice and virtue, is a theme which recurs constantly in Bruegel's work.