The Fight Between Carnival and Lent (1559) by Pieter Bruegel

The Fight Between Carnival and Lent - Pieter Bruegel - 1559

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Artwork Information

TitleThe Fight Between Carnival and Lent
ArtistPieter Bruegel
MediumOil on Panel
Dimensions118 x 164.5 cm
Art MovementNorthern Renaissance
Current LocationKunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, Austria

About The Fight Between Carnival and Lent

“The Fight Between Carnival and Lent” is an allegorical painting by the artist Pieter Bruegel, completed in the year 1559. With dimensions of 118 x 164.5 cm, the artwork is an oil on panel that is part of the “The World Turned Upside Down” series and belongs to the Northern Renaissance art movement. It is housed at the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna, Austria.

The artwork masterfully portrays a bustling square where contrasting festivities of Carnival and Lent appear to collide. The central scene is divided, with the Carnival represented on the left and Lent on the right, creating a visual dichotomy of earthly pleasures and asceticism. The figure of Carnival, often illustrated as a rotund man atop a barrel, is facing off against Lent, depicted as a gaunt, churchgoing figure. The composition is lively and dense, filled with numerous figures engaging in various activities related to the themes of indulgence and abstinence.

Bruegel’s painting serves as a complex social commentary on religious customs and human behavior, cleverly weaving humor and moralizing elements. The attention to detail allows viewers to discover a rich tapestry of human experience, as it encapsulates a wide array of emotions and actions from the festive to the solemn. The various groups of people, from the debauched merrymakers to the pious worshippers, populate the scene with vibrant energy, making the artwork a captivating snapshot of 16th-century life and its inherent contradictions.

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