The Wine of Saint Martin’s Day (1565 – 1568) by Pieter Bruegel the Elder

The Wine of Saint Martin's Day - Pieter Bruegel the Elder - 1565 - 1568

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Artwork Information

TitleThe Wine of Saint Martin's Day
ArtistPieter Bruegel the Elder
Date1565 - 1568
Dimensions148 x 270.5 cm
Art MovementNorthern Renaissance
Current LocationMuseo del Prado, Madrid, Spain

About The Wine of Saint Martin's Day

“The Wine of Saint Martin’s Day” is a renowned artwork by Pieter Bruegel the Elder, dating from between 1565 and 1568. This work is rendered in tempera on canvas, showcasing the artist’s remarkable skill from the Northern Renaissance period. The piece measures 148 by 270.5 centimeters and is categorized as a genre painting, depicting scenes of everyday life with vivid detail and social commentary. The artwork currently resides at the Museo del Prado in Madrid, Spain.

The artwork presents a bustling scene with a multitude of figures engaged in various activities centered around the celebration of Saint Martin’s Day. The composition is filled with lively interactions, creating a sense of motion and revelry. In the forefront, there are people who appear to be indulging in the merriment of tasting wine. There are figures crowding around a large barrel, suggesting that the wine is being distributed freely to the throng of people.

Centered amidst this activity is a large, chaotic group of individuals reaching out for their share, some being lifted above the heads of others to get closer to the source of the beverage. It is alive with movement and the expressions of the characters, ranging from jubilation to focused determination to secure their drink. To the left and right margins of the painting, smaller, more singular narratives unfold, with individuals who are either on their way to join the collective celebration or going about other daily tasks.

One can observe a variety of social strata and age groups represented, from peasants to more well-dressed figures, children, and even animals, adding to the narrative scope. The rich visual storytelling in the artwork reflects both the joy and the excess of the festival, as well as the broader human experiences and societal behaviors of the time. The dark, earthy tones and the dense composition create an impression of depth and complexity, inviting the viewer to examine each character and their individual stories within the grand tapestry of the celebration.

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