We know that Pieter Bruegel the Elder painted several 'peasant weddings'. One of those original panels is currently kept in Vienna (Kunsthistorisches Museum). The copy, in the collection of the Ghent museum, on a smaller scale by his son Pieter Breughel the Younger, was made for the abbot's residence of the Ghent Abbey of St Peter's. It shows how the old Bruegel was a keen observer of 16th-century peasant life and how well he captured its characteristics. The success of this type of 'realism' in Dutch painting in the 16th century was partly due to the popularity of Bruegel's work. But he too was part of a tradition.
Pieter Brueghel the Elder lived in an urban environment in which many citizens were not overly fond of rural customs and types. In their eyes, 'the peasant' was the prototype of unmannerliness. Hieronymus Bosch, at the end of the 15th century, was probably the first to paint a 'peasant wedding'. The theme then became popular and remained so for a long time, not only in art but in literature too. It was meant to denounce unmannered and uncivil behaviour. Other so-called 'uncivilised' classes of people were elderly women, the workshy poor, drunkards, etc.Other works in the collection that are connected to Brueghel are Pieter Breughel the Younger's Village Lawyer and Christ Carrying the Cross by the 'Monogrammist DR'.
SizeH: 69,9 cm
MediumOil on panel