Twelve Proverbs (c.1558 – c.1560) by Pieter Bruegel the Elder

Twelve Proverbs - Pieter Bruegel the Elder - c.1558 - c.1560

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Artwork Information

TitleTwelve Proverbs
ArtistPieter Bruegel the Elder
Datec.1558 - c.1560
Dimensions74.5 x 98.4 cm
Art MovementNorthern Renaissance
Current LocationMuseum Mayer van den Bergh, Antwerp, Belgium

About Twelve Proverbs

The artwork “Twelve Proverbs” is a significant piece created by the renowned artist Pieter Bruegel the Elder, dating approximately from between 1558 and 1560. This oil on panel painting measures approximately 74.5 by 98.4 cm and is categorized as part of the Northern Renaissance art movement. It is an allegorical painting, which means it conveys its message through symbolic figures and actions. You can view this artwork at the Museum Mayer van den Bergh in Antwerp, Belgium.

In “Twelve Proverbs,” the viewer encounters a compilation of visual vignettes, each housed within its own circular frame against a dark, grid-like background. These twelve scenes illustrate various proverbs or sayings, employing human figures to act out their respective adages. Each segment is rich in narrative content, inviting the audience to delve into the pictorial representation of wisdom and folly as understood in the context of 16th-century European culture. This method of multiple allegories within a single artwork allows Bruegel to offer a complex, multifaceted examination of human nature and societal mores. Through “Twelve Proverbs,” Bruegel engages viewers in a dialogue transcending the purely visual, prompting reflection on the morals and lessons embedded within these traditional expressions.

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