The Art Of Passover

The eight-day festival of Passover is celebrated in the early spring, from the 15th through the 22nd of the Hebrew month of Nissan, April 10–18, 2017 (Hebrew year 5777).
Happy Passover to those who celebrate. !חג פסח שמח
For Jews around the world, the Pesach Seder is an excellent occasion to gather at a large table, eat, drink and recall the exodus from Egypt.

For the great painters of the Renaissance, the ritual served as an inexhaustible source of inspiration.

Here is how Leonardo da Vinci painted the Seder of 13 Nisan 3793 on the wall of the refectory of the Dominican convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan. The painting dates from 1495-1498:
Below is the engraving of Albrecht Dürer, created in 1523, from collection of the New York Metropolitan Museum. St John is easily recognized here not only by the absence of a beard, but also by his place at the festive table. It is unclear, though, where the Jesus’s favorite pupil hid his legs. Judas is conspicuously absent, perhaps not to spoil the festive mood.Still below, is the amusing painting of Paolo Veronese “The Feast in the House of Levi”. Originally it was also called “The Last Supper”, but it had to be renamed after the intervention of the Inquisition, accusing the artist of an unfaithful depiction of the event. Veronese’s Last Supper is different from the canonical description by the evangelists. The Seder begins after the stars come out, however Veronese’s Seder feast takes place in the light of the day. The main objection, though, was the “composition” of the participants  — too many people that shouldn’t have been in the presence of Jesus at His Last Supper. The problem went away when the feast has been moved to the “house of Levi”. The canvas of epic proportions (one and a half times larger than Leonardo’s fresco) occupies the entire wall of the Venetian Academy:
The famous canvas of Tintoretto (Jacopo Robusti), created in Venice almost 100 years after the masterpiece of Leonardo. The painting is exhibited in the Basilica of San Giorgio Maggiore on the island of the same name. In the best baroque traditions, it depicts Jesus and his disciples at the festive table in the 16th century Venetian trattoria. Curiously, the mighty Inquisition had no problem with Tintoretto who placed a number of extraneous persons onto the canvas. Perhaps, it was because the supper takes place with the stars out?
“The Last Supper” by the Russian artist Nikolai Ge below was presented to the public in the fall of 1863 in the Academy of Arts of St. Petersburg. Church censorship tried to ban it and demanded its removal from the exhibition. The day was saved by Tsar Alexander II intervention. The royal mecenat bought the painting from the artist. Grudgingly, the clerics had to forget about their claims for a while (although the synodal ban on the publication of reproductions in Russia persisted until the February Revolution of 1917).It should be noted that of the five masterpieces above, only Nikolai Ge’s correctly reflected the ritual of the Last Supper: Passover, the exodus of Jews from Egyptian bondage should be celebrated reclining (מסובין) rather than sitting on the chairs around the table. Accordingly, Jesus’s beloved disciple shouldn’t be depicted sitting on the Teacher’s lap as portrayed by Durer, but rather reclined beside Him.

Many other great masters painted the Last Supper, among them Daniele Crespi, Hans Holbein (Hans the Younger), Juan de Juanes, Ugolino da Siena, Duccio di Buoninsegna

Meet The Artist: Pedro Roldán Molina

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molina 98molina 2An unusual technique, sunny colors, a fantastic country…

Molina_hudozhnikPedro Roldán Molina is an internationally recognized and well-known Spanish artist. He was born in the province of Cordoba in Rute, Spain, in 1954. He studied art in Barcelona. His work can be seen in major museums around the world.

Currently, Pedro Roldán Molina lives and works in Granada, Spain.

molina 7 molina 4An aura of a perfect dream…molina 8What you see and hear, to some extent, depends on what you are. I believe that each canvas, still life, landscape, in essence, is a self-portrait of the soul. (From a blog featuring  works of Pedro Roldán Molina.)molina 95molina 6molina 91molina 93molina 94

Meet The Artist: Tomek Setowsky

Image result for setowskyTomek Setowski (his web page is in Polish with lots of images) is a Polish artist born, by his own admission, “a very long time ego” in Kraków-Częstochowa Upland. He revealed his artistic talents at the tender age of three.His learning lasted for a long time…BiografiaThe young dreamer honed his painting skills over the years, displaying his works first at local galleries and then moving to the best showrooms of the world.For many years Setowski has been put under the wide notion of surrealism. Only recently it was decided that artists having a similar style fall under “magical realism” or “fantastic realism” and the artists themselves (what is often stressed by Setowski) are closer to Bosch than Salvador Dali. There are not many representatives of this trend in the world, for creating such works deserves a faultless, almost masterly technique and immense imagination. (From an article on Setowski here.)

Meet The Artist: Valentin Gubarev

Валентин Губарев.gifIn today’s world, obsessed with money and “capitalization” of everything including art, the artist Valentin Gubarev stands alone.

The Clear Advantage Of The Circular Point Of View

The Clear Advantage Of The Circular Point Of View

Gubarev doesn’t chase fame. He simply does what he loves to do, and he does it well.

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Indian Summer

The artist lives and works in Minsk, Belarus. His work is incredibly popular abroad, but almost unknown to his compatriots.

And I'm worth it!

And I’m Worth It!

In the mid-90s, the French fell in love with Gubarev’s primitive-styled paintings. Consequently, the artist signed the 16 year contract with the French gallery.

Childhood

Childhood

The paintings, which seemingly should be understood and appreciated only by those who is familiar with the Russian life of the Soviet and early post-Soviet period, has been widely exhibited in Switzerland, Germany, the UK and other countries.

Waiting For The Sunrise

Waiting For The Sunrise

The artist perceives the world around his in a very sincere and direct way. Valentin Gubarev doesn’t dream up the subjects for his paintings. Why, if the inspiration is everywhere?

Little Bird

Little Bird

Destroying all the laws of composition and perspective, the artist creates a game of sorts — come with me, walk the walk, be a neighbor, play dominoes, watch your neighbors, chase stray dogs…

Titanik

Titanic

In one of his interviews Valentin Gubarev said that his paintings have no bad guys — no negative personages whatsoever.

Re-reading Schopenhauer

Re-reading Schopenhauer. (Arthur Schopenhauer was a German philosopher. He is best known for his 1818 work The World as Will and Representation.)

“For example, in Slow Dance, a man with a woman are dancing at home. There are champagne and chocolates on the table.”

Slow Dance

Slow Dance

“I am often asked why a man is dancing in his socks? Isn’t it so in real life, too?  Our [Russian] man comes to visit a lady. He wants to please and impress with his manners. Of course, he takes off his shoes. A “man in socks” is no longer a macho — at once he becomes “domesticated,” easy to handle.  A man in socks in woman’s house is a gift of god.”gubarev4

“I love them all and I treat them with compassion,” says Gubarev. “The people on my canvasses are neither heroic nor particularly attractive. They are often not well off and not always carefree and happy.

Inspiration

Inspiration

Night Dreams

Night Dreams

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Meet The Artist: Claude Verlinde

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Claude Verlinde is a French painter who works in the vein of “fantastic realism”, sometimes called “magic realism”, and his work shows the lineage of fantastical art from Bruegel and Bosch to the Surrealists and contemporary magic realists. He was born June 24, 1927 in Paris, his lineage is Flemish.  claude verlinde 15
Early on, the school art teacher pointed out young Claude’s artistic talent to his parents and persuaded  them to enroll their son in an art school.ver1

He entered the Académie de la Grande Chaumière. His studies, however, were interrupted by the German occupation.
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While the Verlinde family escaped the occupied Paris, the family home was destroyed. ver3

Returning to Paris, Claude resumes his artistic pursuits at the  School of Fine Arts in Paris.
He also attended workshop of anatomical drawing of the Grande Chaumiere.

The turning point of his life as a young artist came on the day he declined an unexpected and lucrative offer of a position of a lead designer of public projects in a large company, to paint freely.Claude Verlinde  (14).jpg

His often darkly themed works employ the dark earth tones of the early Renaissance, as well as some of the visual staging and precise rendering characteristic of that period. He sometimes uses a brighter palette, but his work always has a feeling of referencing another time, if not another world.
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There is a trove of larger versions on the Russian Blog Beyond time, beyond space. There are also galleries on beinArt Surreal Art Collective and Ten Dreams.

Golden Adele

klimt.jpgGustav Klimt kept no diary. In a rare writing called Commentary on a non-existent self-portrait, he modestly admits,

 “I have never painted a self-portrait. I am less interested in myself as a subject for a painting than I am in other people, above all women…There is nothing special about me. I am a painter who paints day after day from morning to night…Whoever wants to know something about me… ought to look carefully at my pictures.”

Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I (1907) is one of the most notable works of Klimt’s “Golden Phase.” It has a tumultuous biography, this portrait. Both the portrait and the woman on it, to be sure. Love, lust, jealousy, death, bequest, reversal of fortunes, war, occupation, expropriation, immigration, international courts of law… The story of this picture’s travails is truly amazing. Since 2006, the portrait is exhibited at the Neue Galerie, New York.

All of the above is just to feature this GIF image. Klimt would’ve been pleased… or, perhaps, horrified?Klimt Gif.gif

Bosch 500

bosch7 Hieronymus Bosch, who is also called Jeroen Bosch, lived in ‘s-Hertogenbosch (also  known as Den Bosch) from 1450 to 1516.bosch4 In 2016, 500 years after Hieronymus Bosch died, the Art Center will organize a range of special exhibitions and activities. The entire town has become a virtual museum. Bosch is everywhere…

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Interesting that in the painter’s native town no original paintings of the master remains. Not a single item. Thus it looked like an impossible dream that this provincial Dutch city will be able to collect enough items for the anniversary exhibition. However, from February 13 to May 8 of this year, 20 paintings and 19 drawings by Bosch arrived from Spain, Italy, France, Germany, Austria, Belgium, Holland and the USA.

From Paris (Louvre) came Ship of Fools.fools.jpg  Death and the Miser  arrived from Washington.Hieronymus_Bosch_-_Death_and_the_Miser_-_Google_Art_ProjectThe Haywain Triptich (The Hay Wagon) left Spain (Prado) for the first time in 500 years.bosch_hieronymus-the_haywain_triptych In spite of fears that the “non-touristic” ‘s-Hertogenbosch will not attract visitors, the exhibition tickets were sold in the first two weeks.

There is a deep symbolism in the fact that after five centuries after Bosch’s death his art came back to the city where it was created. Nearly everything that is known about the life of Hieronymus Bosch is closely linked to ‘s-Hertogenbosch, his hometown. Here, around 1450, Jeroen van Aken was born in a family of painters. Here, at the age of thirty, he got married and lived in ‘s-Hertogenbosch all his comfortable, filled with creativity life.

There is a mystery about Hieronymus Bosch: How could a little-traveled provincial painter, who lived away from the major art centers and never made any long journeys, so acutely feel the nerve of his era? Where have he picked up a truly comprehensive knowledge that makes his paintings an encyclopedia of the 15th century life: science, medicine, alchemy, architecture, military, craft, shipbuilding, folklore, music, fashion, flora and fauna? In search of answers, we again return to ‘s-Hertogenbosch.town.jpgThe city center, although 500 years passed since the master’s death, still remains timelessly unchanged. Bosch, should he’d miraculously reappeared on one of the side streets, would’ve been able to find the way to his father’s house on the market square and its own workshop nearby, without much difficulty. Just as 500 years ago, on market days, the square is overflowing with flowers, cheeses and fish, the water is gurgling in the medieval fountain, and the bells of the cathedral toll by the hour.

One of the major attractions is the Gothic St. John’s Cathedral, one of the finest Gothic churches of the Netherlands. janDuring the life of Bosch the cathedral was nearly completed. 16 exterior arches — double flying buttresses — are decorated with 96 stone sculptures, wonderfully alive, truly “boschian.”  jan3Artisans, musicians, fantastic beasts and birds… Bosch must have seen them, remembered from childhood, flying buttresses of the cathedral with their riders — like the bridge from ‘s-Hertogenbosch to the creativity of her famous native.

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From ‘s-Hertogenbosch Bosch exhibition will travel to Madrid, the Prado Museum. The Prado’s  Bosch exhibit will show off virtually all the paintings and graphics of the master.

Meet The Artist: Tomasz Alen Kopera

koperakopera1Tomasz Alen Kopera was born in 1976 in Kożuchów, Poland. He attended the University of Technology in Wrocław, where he gained a degree in construction engineering. His artistic talent came to light already in early childhood.kopera2 Tomasz paints in oil on canvas. Human nature and the mysteries of the Universe are his inspiration. kopera7kopera9His paintings permeate with symbols that often relate to human psyche and man’s relation with the surrounding world.kopera8kopera3 His paintings are dark and mysterious. kopera8The technique, developed over many years, testifies to the artist’s great sensitivity and talent.kopera4Tomasz is celebrated for his acute attention to detail and mastery of color.  In 2005, the artist moved to Northern Ireland where he lives now.kopera7 From 2010 he has been a member of Libellule Group formed by Lukas Kandl.kopera9kopera5

“In my work I try to reach to the subconscious. I want to keep the viewer’s attention for a longer moment. Make him want to reflect, contemplate,” Tomasz says.

Mysterious Paintings of Tomasz Alen Kopera:

Blue Star. A Fairy Tale

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Paris-based artist Saré (aka Evgenia Sarkissian) created a world of these odd little creatures she calls Zyuziki (plural). They are bumpy in all the wrong places. They stand together in weird ways. They wear weird things, decorated in odd ways.

“What seems ugly to us,they proudly reveal, and that does not make them ridiculous in the eyes of other Zyuziki. For us, yes, it may look like that, but to me it just means that we are not able to see ourselves. Who created the criteria of beauty? What does the appearance mean? How important is it? I suspect that we have different answers to these questions, and their answers I do not know. But, perhaps to their credit, ask us those questions and make us think,” Saré says in defense of her Zyuziki.sare7

This post meant to be titled Meet The Artist: Saré (Evgenia Sarkisian) — a part of the Meet The Artist series of posts. It isn’t, though, because the cute little world of Zyuzikis reminded me of a certain fairy tale — Blue Star by the Russian writer Aleksandr Kuprin (1870-1938.)

I couldn’t find an English translation of it — not sure it even exists, so I’ll  give you my own brief retelling. Here we go.

Once upon a time, since time immemorial, on the high plateau separated from the world by steep cliffs, deep gorges and thick forests lived peaceful, pastoral people.

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A long time ago, no one remembers how many centuries back, a small regiment of strong, tall, clad in iron men crossed the treacherous rivers, climbed the steep mountains and reached this bucolic country.

The warriors liked what they found — a heavenly country with its gentle people, warm climate, delicious water and fertile land. There was no fight to conquer the pastoral country, for its peaceful inhabitants knew no evil, weapons or war. Thus the knights shed their heavy armor and decided to settle in these beautiful lands. Soon enough they won the hearts of local girls and married them.sare55Their leader, valiant and noble Earn, became their King, and the country got its name, Earnaterra, since and forever.sare12 It was he, Earn the First, who taught the people of Earnaterra husbandry and horticulture.sare1 He opened them to writing and art. He gave them the rudiments of law and religion.sare17 Earn the First remembered the temptations, debauchery and wickedness prevailing in the “educated countries down there” he left behind, thus he ruled to destroy the mountain path to Earnaterra, making the heavenly land forever unreacheable by any means whatsoever.sare6Under the good and wise rule of various kings all of them named Earn, not knowing wars, crime and poverty for thousand years, beautiful Ernaterra blossomed magnificently. Through the generations, the descendants of the knights became indistinguishable from the local population — there was no longer any visible difference in either language or appearance. The physique of the ancient knights was completely absorbed and dissolved in the native looks.sare44The language of the warriors, largely forgotten even by the kings, was used only at the court, in the most solemn ceremonies, often for expression of either elevated emotions or high concepts. sare9The memories of Earn the First, Earn the Great and Earn the Holy remained forever immortalized in beautiful, enduring legends — the creation of national lore.sare88A number of items that belonged to Earn the First were lovingly preserved in the ancient royal castle:  his armor, his helmet, a sword, a spear and a few unintelligible words the king carved out with the tip of his dagger on the wall of his hunting room.

None of the Earnaterrans could lift this armor even an inch off the ground or swing the heavy sword, even with both hands, and no one could make sense out of the inscription on the wall. The three images of the king were also preserved. One was a mosaic tableau bearing Earn’s profile, another  was a painted portrait and yet another — a statue carved of marble.

It must be said that every one of the three images of Earn the First were created with great love, artfulness and craftsmanship. Nonetheless, they were the subject of constant grieving. You see, the gentle Earnaterrans who adored their first monarch, the great, wise, just, holy Earn, collectively agreed — and with great sadness — that Earn the First was  exceptionally unattractive. His face, although neither evil or repulsive, was, well, extraordinary ugly by the high aesthetic standards of Earnaterra. sare3This is to say  that Earnaterrans have been enormously proud of their own inherent beauty.
sare77An ugly appearance of their first king has been forgiven, of course, thanks to the legendary beauty of his soul.sare.jpg

The laws of inherent similarities sometimes present people with strange whims. From time to time, a child is born looking nothing like his/her father or mother, not even like his/her grandparent or great grandparents, resembling, however, some distant ancestor generations removed.

Chroniclers recorded the births of an exceptionally ugly sons that sometimes occurred in the Earn royal family, although in the course of history these phenomena became more and more rare. Interesting that these ugly princes often possessed great high spiritual qualities: kindness, intelligence, cheerfulness. Such a fair mercy for the unfortunate fate of the august freaks reconciled Earnaterrans with them in spite of the people being very judgmental in matters of beauty and appearance.

Good King Earn XXIII was a remarkably handsome man. He fell passionately in love and married the most beautiful girl of the nation. sare11The royal couple remained childless for a very long time: ten years, counting from the wedding. One can imagine the jubilation of the people when in the eleventh year the welcome news that their beloved queen is with child. The people rejoiced doubly because with the royal birth a straight line of the crown inheritance was going to be restored. Earnaterrans were delighted when the  Princess Erna XIII was born.sare31Meanwhile, in the royal palace, the court midwife took a newborn baby in her arms and shook her head with great sadness. The fair queen glanced at her daughter and clasped her hands.

“Oh, my God, how ugly!” she lamented and burst into tears. But, in a moment, she came to her senses and said, “No, no, let me hold my little darling.  I’ll love her twice as much — the poor baby is so ugly.”

“Ah,” said the august father, “The fate is so cruel!  I’ve heard of ugly princes in our dynasty, but the ugly princess is the first in the noble House of Earns. Let us pray that beautiful soul, heart and mind outweigh her physical appearance.”

The faithful people of Earnaterra wholeheartedly agreed. Let the newborn Infanta be of a beautiful spirit.

Princess Earna, meanwhile, grew by leaps and bounds, was cheerful and healthy child, growing ever uglier with every passing day, bearing striking resemblance to the portraits of the Earn the First. She was a beautiful soul possessing lovely inner qualities: kindness, patience, humility, attention to others, love for people and animals, clear, lively, precise mind and unfailing affability.

At this point, we’ll abandon Sare’s art, for, obviously, Princess Earna was no Zyuik… segur_seven_crow_princes

…and considerably speed up the pace of the storytelling. One of the reasons of this hastiness is a spring snowstorm in Colorado. It damped over a foot of snow on Boulder, about a ton of which landed on our driveway and needs to be shoveled ASAP.IMG_20160416_152120.jpg

Thus, brevis in longo: To spare their ugly daughter’s feelings, her beautiful parents abolished mirrors in Ernaterra. For a very long time she had no idea how different she looks from Ernaterrans. A chance discovery of a single shard of mirror in her old nanny’s trunk devastated Earna. Distraught, she run into the mountains. There, she rescued a young man hanging off the cliff. He was tall and, by far, the ugliest creature she’d ever seen, speaking gibberish in a language that later has been revealed as French.

The French prince — and that who he was, for it is a fairy tale — nursed to health by Earna, had no trouble handling the ancient armor of King Earn the First and falling in love with a beautiful (oh, sorry, ugly)  princess. “Oh, my love, how sad I’m not the most beautiful girl of Earnaterra!” she said. “Thank gods for that, my beloved blue star!” said the prince in Earnaterran. They married, departed to France, had an ugly (oh, sorry, beautiful) baby son.  Poor Earna was happy to end up living among ugly people. Only the birth of an equally ugly child changed her perception of beauty. And also the revelation that the words carved on the wall of Earn the First’s hunting room in Latin said, “The men of my country are smart, loyal and hardworking, the women — honest, kind and intelligent. But — God forgive them! — they are exceptionally ugly people.”

The Endprince

 

Pieter Bruegel the Elder. Conversion of St Paul

Pieter_Bruegel_the_Elder_-_The_Conversion_of_Saul_-_WGA3329Pieter Bruegel the Elder painted Conversion of Paul  (oil on panel, 108 x 156 cm) in 1567. It is currently held and exhibited at the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna.

Saul, persecutor of Christians, the future St Paul, was journeying to Damascus to gather these religious heretics and convey them to Jerusalem for punishment at the hands of the high priest. According to the Gospels, a light shone on him, and he heard the voice of Jesus as he fell to the ground.

“Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”

“Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked.

“I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” he replied. “Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”

The men traveling with Saul stood there speechless; they heard the sound but did not see anyone. Saul got up from the ground, but when he opened his eyes he could see nothing. So they led him by the hand into Damascus. For three days he was blind, and did not eat or drink anything.  — Acts 9:3–9, NIV

Let us take a closer look at the painting.peter bruegel.PNGThe painting presents a military force on foot and horseback within a steep alpine pass, but here the subject remains obscure at first glance. The main impression consists of spatial contrasts: the mountain pass on the left reveals a vertiginous view down to a distant, verdant seacoast, from which antlike figures ascend.

1. Sea and ships far away

1. Sea and ships far away

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3. The wagons and soldiers

 Bruegel also included an army of foot soldiers, many still slogging up the steep hillside.

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4. Endless procession of soldiers. Like ant they are, following one after another

This combination of military units was characteristic of sixteenth-century armies (along with the added force of modern cannon inappropriate to a biblical depiction).

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At the pivot of this procession, between light and dark, several large equestrian figures occupy the lower right corner of the picture. Their bright costumes and the prominent horse rumps identify them as cavalry officers bearing the squadron banner. Behind them sits a fuller cavalry force in contemporary armor.

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9. The Black Rider

At the pivot of this procession, between light and dark, several large equestrian figures occupy the lower right corner of the picture. Their bright costumes and the prominent horse rumps identify them as cavalry officers bearing the squadron banner. Behind them sits a fuller cavalry force in contemporary armor.

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10. One of the soldiers point the nobility the place where something is happening

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Clad in blue and surrounded by a tight circle of observers, foreshortened on the ground as Saul struggles before the horse from which he has just fallen.

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12. The scene with the future Apostle Paul

In Bruegel’s painting that light, though faint, can be found above and to the left of the evergreens, subtly angled to intercept the prone figure of Saul. While Saul’s soldiers respond to his bodily accident, they fail to grasp the ultimate spiritual significance of this event. In the denouement, a temporarily blinded Saul is led on to Damascus by his men.

13. Depiction of God

13. Depiction of God

An army like the one on the painting would have resembled the Spanish forces brought to the Netherlands by the Duke of Alba in 1567, the same year this painting was created. Ten thousand strong, they left Spain in April of 1567, and Alba led his army northward in June on what became known as “the Spanish road,” marching across the Italian Alps through Piedmont and Savoy and into Brussels on August 22.

The sea (#1) that is seen in the distance: It was from there, from the Italian coast, that the Spanish troops set off to cross the Alps, their task to drive out the heretics and crush Netherlands efforts to obtain more freedom.

No viewer of Bruegel’s painting could have failed to associate Alba’s force with both the alpine imagery and the contemporary depiction of soldiers.