Letman Art Gallery

Pieter Bruegel “The Elder".

Alejandro Vergara, Chief Curator of Flemish and Northern School Painting comments on the work “The Triumph of Death” by Pieter Bruegel “the Elder”. (Spanish and English subtitles available.)

Moral work that shows the triumph of Death over mundane things, symbolized through a great army of skeletons sweeping the Earth. In the background appears a wasteland landscape where scenes of destruction still take place. In the foreground, Death in front of his armies on a red horse, destroys the world of the living, who are led to a huge coffin, without hope of salvation. All social classes are included in the composition, without the power or devotion can save them. Some try to fight against their fateful destiny, others abandon themselves to their fate. Only a couple of lovers, in the lower right, remains oblivious to the future that they also have to suffer. The painting reproduces a common theme in medieval literature such as the Dance of Death, which was frequently used by Nordic artists. Brueghel endowed the whole work with a reddish brown tone, which helps to give the scene an infernal aspect, appropriate to the subject represented. The profusion of scenes and the moralizing sense used by the author are part of the influence of El Bosco in his work.

The painting belonged to Queen Isabel Farnesio, who had it in the Palace of La Granja.



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