The Sermon of St John the Baptist (1566)
by Pieter BRUEGEL the Elder

Karel van Mander, in his lives of the Netherlandish painters, has described how Pieter Bruegel would regularly visit a village wedding or a fair, mixing with the crowd and making sketches of the people and their manners and clothes. He made use of these studies in his pictures of Biblical episodes, which, for the most part, served only as a pretext for depicting the everyday life of Flanders.

In this picture of St John the Baptist we recognize a village preacher at one of the religious congregations which were a feature of the Reformation. The figure of St John, however, is almost lost in the heart of the picture, the principal subject being the motley and colourful crowd - a haphazard congregation of believers, or people merely curious to see what was going on, some attentive, some bored. An abundance of detail combined with dramatic intensity, integration of figures with landscape and an expressive power unequalled in its vividness are the principal characteristics of this masterpiece.

A number of copies of this picture, both contemporary and dating from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, have come down to us, and many of them are in museums in Flanders (Antwerp, Bruges, Brussels), as well as in Bonn, Schwerin, Leningrad, Munich and Cracow, mostly produced with the co-operation of his sons, Pieter and Jan, and his workshop employees.

Preview Picture Data Info
The Sermon of St John the Baptist
1566
Oil on wood, 95 x 160,5 cm
Szépművészeti Múzeum, Budapest


The Sermon of St John the Baptist (detail)
1566
Oil on wood
Szépművészeti Múzeum, Budapest


The Sermon of St John the Baptist (detail)
1566
Oil on wood
Szépművészeti Múzeum, Budapest


The Sermon of St John the Baptist (detail)
1566
Oil on wood
Szépművészeti Múzeum, Budapest


The Sermon of St John the Baptist (detail)
1566
Oil on wood
Szépművészeti Múzeum, Budapest


The Sermon of St John the Baptist (detail)
1566
Oil on wood
Szépművészeti Múzeum, Budapest


The Sermon of St John the Baptist (detail)
1566
Oil on wood
Szépművészeti Múzeum, Budapest


The Sermon of St John the Baptist (detail)
1566
Oil on wood
Szépművészeti Múzeum, Budapest


The Sermon of St John the Baptist (detail)
1566
Oil on wood
Szépművészeti Múzeum, Budapest


The Sermon of St John the Baptist (detail)
1566
Oil on wood
Szépművészeti Múzeum, Budapest



Summary of works by Pieter Bruegel the Elder
Paintings
Landscapes | Children's games | Proverbs
Village life | Demons and devils | Tower of Babel
Series of Months | Religious themes | St John the Baptist
Peasant life | Large figures | Miscellaneous
Graphics



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