Pieter Bruegel’s painting, Dulle Griet (Mad Meg), is a depiction of Flemish folklore character who leads an army of women to pillage hell. The painting is based on a proverb that was published in 1568 and describes Dulle Griet as “worse than hell itself.” Painted around 1562, the artwork illustrates Gret leading a group of women to plunder the underworld.
The menacing figure of Dulle Griet is the subject of various interpretations. It is thought to represent female empowerment or be a warning against greed and sin. Interestingly, the painting is based on Bruegel’s earlier engraving of Ira from his series on the Seven Deadly Sins done in 1558.
Technical analysis of a color drawing recovered from Kunstpalast in Düsseldorf revealed crucial information regarding the Antwerp painting’s original palette. This study has allowed experts to recreate missing elements such as textured surfaces, vibrant colors from pigments that have since altered, and details involving specific techniques used by Bruegel himself.