Still looking for Pieter Bruegel the Elder

Edwards, Jamie Lee (2013). Still looking for Pieter Bruegel the Elder. University of Birmingham. M.Phil.

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Pieter Bruegel the Elder (c.1526-69) is one of the most renowned sixteenth-century Netherlandish artists. Paradoxically, however, he is also one of the most mysterious and our dearth of known historical information about Bruegel has generated much debate about how his art relates to the religious and political conflicts raging in the Low Countries during the 1560s. Most previous scholarship has attempted to place Bruegel’s allegiances on one side or the other of a Catholic versus Protestant binary, and attempted to demonstrate that Bruegel’s art was conceived and understood as partisan propaganda. By taking a reception-focused approach, this thesis seeks to address this shortcoming in Bruegel scholarship. Chapter 1 is primarily concerned with the intended audience for Bruegel’s art, their beliefs and the ways in which they displayed and interpreted art. Chapters 2 and 3 each then focus on a single painting by Bruegel, the Carrying of the Cross (1564) and the Blind Leading the Blind (1568), which are treated as case-studies for the ways in which Bruegel’s imagery was originally understood and interpreted. I will argue that Bruegel’s paintings were originally set-up as discussion pieces, designed to stimulate tolerant discussion in the domestic environment with a view to promoting Christian morality.

Type of Work: Thesis (Masters by Research > M.Phil.)
Award Type: Masters by Research > M.Phil.
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Arts & Law
School or Department: School of Languages, Cultures, Art History and Music
Funders: Arts and Humanities Research Council
Subjects: N Fine Arts > ND Painting


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