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

Netherlandish Proverbs (detail)

Oil on oak panel
Staatliche Museen, Berlin

Like a human ant colony populated by a crowded community with the wisdom or folly of its actions, the swarm of miniature men, women, children, animals, and props on this panel serves as an almost subversive manifesto of human folly. Mapping what's wrong with all of us, Bruegel's bird's-eye view is a mercilessly moralizing mirror of a misguided Our Town, one peopled by the fruits of the Fall, by the all-too-human condition, exhibited in a comic, didactic fashion. This overview of innumerable Liliputian transactions and pursuits, of hundreds of eloquent details, is no less than a vision of the world.

© Web Gallery of Art, created by Emil Krén and Daniel Marx.