Belgium artist Pieter Bruegel the Elder’s The Peasant Dance was painted in circa 1568 and is currently held by the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna. This painting is believed to be one of a set of three works, including The Wedding Dance and The Peasant Wedding, from around the same time.
The painting depicts the opening dance of a country fair which involves traditional leaping dance by pairs of couples, with 125 wedding guests present wearing their best clothes, while brides dressed in black and men in codpieces. Bruegel’s late style is characterized by enormous figures and he uses monumental Italianate figures for this painting making it one of his most outstanding examples.
This artwork shows several social classes enjoying themselves without regard to rank or standing. It has been subjected to Marxist art-historical analysis focusing on attitudes toward social class. Napoleon Bonaparte looted this painting and took it to Paris in 1808 but was subsequently returned in 1815.