Sie sind auf Seite 1von 31

Pieter Bruegel the Elder and the Matter of Italy Author(s): Jane ten Brink Goldsmith Source: The

Sixteenth Century Journal, Vol. 23, No. 2 (Summer, 1992), pp. 205-234 Published by: The Sixteenth Century Journal Stable URL: . Accessed: 05/04/2013 09:42
Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of the Terms & Conditions of Use, available at .

JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new forms of scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact

The Sixteenth Century Journal is collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserve and extend access to The Sixteenth Century Journal.

This content downloaded from on Fri, 5 Apr 2013 09:42:58 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

Sixteenth Journal Century XXIII, No. 2 (1992)

Pieter Bruegel the Elder and the Matter of Italy

JanetenBrinkGoldsmith* Center forAdvanced Studyin theVisualArts NationalGallery ofArt inrelationship Pieter theElder's arediscussed Bruegel landscape paintings to latesixteenth-century arttheory. the Italian humanists Among during stoodas a paradigm forNetherlandish Renaissance, landscape painting oflandscape both itsstrengths andweaknesses. Discussion art, exemplifying intothe Paragone in Italianarttheory, also entered whereit painting stoodas a paradigm for and of the as an such, waysin painting, example whichpainting to Italianart surpassed Bruegel's sculpture. relationship and hislandscape needto be understood in relationship to one paintings another. thestatus ofpainting as "craft," Bruegel's Upholding landscapes, with their truth tonature andincorporation ofItalian unsurpassed principles of his native of painting, are a celebration Netherlandish tradition. His in ushering as a landscape was in thisrespect in a crucial activity painter of cultural self-definition in theNetherlands thesixteenth during period century. and publisher stayin Italy and began an associationwith the printmaker seemsto have alreadyestablished Cock.1By thistimetheartist Hieronymus as a landscapepainter, in thisto a nativepictorial himself tradition. adhering This tradition, which had origins in early Netherlandishcalendar art, part in the religious art of Jan van Eyck and his played an important of painting followers and emergedduringthe 1520s as a separatecategory
IN 1555, PIETERBRUEGELTHE ELDER returnedto Antwerp froman extended

*I thankProfessor Walter Gibson forhaving kindlymade the manuscript of his book of Bruegel'slandscapes on theworldlandscapeavailablepriorto publication. My interpretation owes much to Gibson's thoughtful of theworkof Bruegeland his predecessors. interpretation of work are: Pieter 'The standard FritzGrossmann, catalogues Bruegel's Bruegel: Complete Editionof thePaintings, 3d rev. ed. (London/New York: Phaidon, 1973); Ludwig Munz, Edition(London: Phaidon Press, 1961); and Louis Lebeer, : The Drawings:Complete Bruegel de Pierre l'Ancien(Brussels: desestampes raisonne Ir, Bibliotheque RoyaleAlbert Catalogue Bruegel association seeespecially Grossmann, ibid.,7-20. On Bruegel's 1969). Foran account life, ofBruegel's and Publisher withHieronymus Cock, see Timothy Cock, Printmaker (New Riggs,Hieronymus und Seine York/London: Garland, 1977); idem, "Bruegel and his Publisher,"Pieter Bruegel fromHieronymus Welt(Berlin:Mann, 1979); Walter Gibson,"Some FlemishPopular Prints ArtBulletin Cock and his Contemporaries," 60 (December 1978): 673-81.


This content downloaded from on Fri, 5 Apr 2013 09:42:58 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions


The Sixteenth Journal XXIII/2 (1992) Century

in the work ofJoachimPatinir.2 Notably,Bruegel's associationwith Cock as a revivalof Netherlandish art of with what be understood began may This revival the form of for the earlysixteenth took century. designs prints the mannerof Hieronymus Bosch and designsfora set of twelve imitating in the artof which renew the world landscapeas exemplified large prints Patinir.3 It is well establishedthat Bruegel's associationwith Cock markeda activities.4 Cock had also spent time in turningpoint in Cock's printing and founded his establishment on Italianmodels. During the Italy printing first halfofthe 1550s,hisprinting had a Italianorientation activity decidedly in its concentration on Italian Renaissancepainting,in the productionof Flemish Romanistartists, and in the production designsby contemporary of setsof Roman ruins.Bruegel'sassociation withCock usheredin a change fromthis Italian orientation to a focuson nativeart. It would be an incorrect assessment of Bruegel's art to thinkthat he left the matter of aside. attention has been given Italy Justifiably, simply to Italian art.5 to his relationship Not only are quotationsof classical art to be foundin Bruegel's work,but it is also generally acknowledgedthat his monumental the in of his late as well as portrayal peasant paintings, the more sweepingsense of space and compositionthat informs both his areinspired late peasantpaintings and his late landscapes, Italian by pictorial tradition. While the assumptionhas been that throughthe adoption of Italian principlesof paintingthe artistimparteda feelingof grandeur to both peasant and landscape, little considerationhas been given to his to Italian artwith respectto broaderculturalissues. relationship
20n the history of Netherlandish landscapepaintingpriorto Bruegel,see Ludwig von von Patinir bis Bruegel." Jahrbuch der Baldass, "Die NiederlandischeLandschaftsmalerei 34 (1918): 111ff.See also H. G. Kunsthistorischen des Allerhichsten Kaiserhauses Sammlungen imZeitalter desManierismus DruckFranz,Niederlindische (Graz: Akademische Landschaftsmalerei u. Verlagsanstalt, 1969). The most recentstudyon Flemish landscape paintingis Walter World Gibson, "Mirror (Princeton: oftheEarth":The Flemish Landscape oftheSixteenth Century Press, 1989). princetonUniversity 3While considerable has been givenin the modernliterature attention to Bruegel'sprints, his setofLarge has notreceivedthe kindof attention it deserves. The mostextensive Landscapes and most recentdiscussionof these designsis in Gibson, "Mirror of theEarth,"chap. 5. See also Lebeer,Catalogue 29-48. TheLargeLandscapes were publishedby Cock sometime Raisonne, in the late 1550s. The first printin the series,Viewof Tivoli,is relatedto an earlierprint published by Cock. Most of the landscapes in this series returnto the world landscape; a new typeof forested introduce however,severalof the designssuch as the Pagus Nemerosus, landscape,which has been said to evoke Bruegel's nativeterrain. Cock,49ff. 4Riggs,Hieronymus 50n Bruegel and Italian art,see FritsLugt, "PieterBruegel und Italien,"Festschrift fir "PeterBruegheltheElder MaxJ. Friedldnder (Leipzig: Seemanm,1927), 11ff; GustavGliuck, and Classical Antiquity," 6 (Summer1943): 167ff.;FritzGrossmann, ArtQuarterly "Bruegel's Woman Taken in Adulteryand other Grisailles,"Burlington Magazine 94 (August 1952): 218ff; Fritz Grossmann,"Bruegel's Verhaltniszu Raffaelund zur RaffaelNachfolge," in KurtBadt (Berlin: DeGruyter,1961), 135ff;Carl Stridbeck, "Bruegel und der Festschriftfirr Niederlandische Studien Romanismus," (Soest, Holland: Davaco, 1977),266 ff. Bruegel

This content downloaded from on Fri, 5 Apr 2013 09:42:58 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

Pieter & Italy 207 Bruegel It is my intention here to considerBruegel's relationship to Italywith to a sense of a Netherlandish school of painting regard newly emerging thatoccurredduringthe second halfof the sixteenth in century both Italy and the Netherlands. in the Netherlands The emergence itself of a national in self-consciousness vis-a-vis fact be in understood may painting relationship to Italy,wherethe idea of a nationalschool of painting was closelywedded to the notionof a nationalcultural'rebirth.' Vasari'sLives,which was first in conceives of the of of Italian 'history art' as the history published 1550, the second edition of Vasari's Lives, Notably,however, painting.6 published in 1568, includeda sectionon Netherduringthe peak of Bruegel'scareer, landishpainters.7Just fouryearslater,and followingBruegel's death,the widow of thelate Hieronymus Cock published a Netherlandish counterpart to Vasari, in the form of a volume of portraits of Dutch and Flemish painters accompanied by Latin verses composed by the Netherlandish humanist Domenicus Lampsonius.8 The questionI wish to addressis: How do we understand as a landscape painter,as well as his career Bruegel's to Italian as a of art, relationship part thisbroaderculturaldevelopment? When Bruegel embarked he was, upon a careeras a landscapepainter, to be sure, taking up a type of paintingwhich for Italians epitomized Netherlandish art - both its strengths and its shortcomings.9 On the one were admired for the vast distances hand, Netherlandish they landscapes and forthe infinite of detailtheyincluded;on the other variety portrayed hand, theywere slightedfor lacking the elevated concernsof Italian art. This Italian, and, it might be added, humanist,sense of Netherlandish paintingis in factexpressedin some commentsthat Lampsoniusmade in the verseshe wrote about the Dutch painter Jan van Aemstel,where he
6Le ViteDe Pii Eccelenti Et Scultori InsinoA'Tempi Architetti, Italiani,Da Cimabue Pittori, Nostri: Descritte in linguaToscana, da Giorgio VasariPittore Aretino. Con unasuautile& necessaria introduzzione e le artiloro,1st ed.(Florence: Lorenzo Torrentino,1550). 7Le ViteDe'Pii Eccelenti Et Architettori, & di nuovo da M. Scritte Pittori, Scultori, Ampliate VasariPit. Et Archit. 2d ed. (Florence:Apressoi Giunti, 1568). Giorgio Aretino, 8Pictorum Germanicae aliquotcelebrium inferioris effigies (Antwerp,1572). 9Fordiscussion see Gibson, of the Italianreception of Netherlandish landscapepainting, "Mirror oftheEarth,"chap. 1. Vasall, in a letterto BenedettoVarchi of 1547, praisesFlemish fortheireffects of space,addingthatthere"is no cobbler'shouse without landscapepaintings itslandscape, becauseone becomesattracted by theirpleasantview and theworkingof depth." Francesco Tratto di Pittura that"a certain talent and discretion Lanciolotti, (Rome, 1509), writes is needed for[rendering] near and distantlandscape,which the Flemishseem to have rather than the Italian." The negativeview of Flemish landscape is exemplified in the comment allegedly made by Michelangelo (according to Francesco da Holanda, De PinturaAntigua [1548]): "But mostof the time theypaint what are called landscapeswith plentyof figures. Though the eye is agreeablyimpressedthese pictureshave neitherart nor reason; neither nor proportion;neitherchoice of values nor grandeur.In short,this is an art symmetry withoutpower and withoutdistinction; it aims at rendering minutelymany thingsat the same time,of which a singleone would have sufficed to call forth a whole man's application" Middle JohannHuizinga, The Waning (quoted from ofthe Ages[New York: Doubleday Anchor Books, 1954], 265).

This content downloaded from on Fri, 5 Apr 2013 09:42:58 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions


The Sixteenth XXIII/2 (1992) Journal Century

win praise fortheirlandscapes,while noted that,"... the Netherlanders the Italiansexcel in the representation of men and gods." Lampsoniusthen remarkedthat this was only natural,"...because the Italians have their is in theirhands."10 brainsin theirheads,while the geniusof Netherlanders And so, a distinctionarose between Italian painting as "learning" and Flemish art as "craft."11 In recentyears,Van Mander's image of "peasant" Bruegel has given now known to have artist, way to one of Bruegel as a more sophisticated and princes.Bruegel'sconnectionin Rome with associatedwith humanists that his association the Croatian miniaturist Giulio Clovio demonstrates in withtheworldof Renaissance humanism Evidence began early his career. that the two artists and we can assume collaborated, safely strongly suggests thatthis collaborationtook the formof Bruegel providinglandscapesfor Clovio's figure scenes.12 More important is Vasari'sdescription here,however, of Clovio as "un piccolo e nuovo Michelangelo,"and the factthatClovio was well knownin his own lifetime forhis interest in arttheory.13 Bruegel's Italianarttradition in considvis-a-vis self-consciousness becomesapparent ering a work such as his Towerof Babel (fig. 1; Gen. 11:1-9; Josephus, however, 1:42), executed in 1563.14More specifically, Jewish Antiquities, the paintingis a responseto the preoccupation in his own Netherlandish

l?This is quoted in full by E. H. Gombrich,"The RenaissanceTheory of Art and the Rise of Landscape," in Norm and Form (London/New York: Phaidon Press, 1966), 115. hominespingere,sive deos/Nec "PropriaBelgarumlaus est bene pingererura/Ausoniorum, In capites sedBelga cerebrum/Non temere in gnavafertur habere mirum, Ausonius, manu/Maluit ergo manus Jani bene pingere rura/Quam caput, aut homines aut male scire deos ..." However, as Gibson "Mirror of theEarth,"chap. 1, points out, already in 1549, Antonio FrancescoDoni, a Florentine thatthe Flemishpaintvelvetand living in Venice, had asserted silk betterthan other paintersbecause they are betterin affairs not requiringdrawing,or hence the proverb, (gl'hanno il cervellonelle "theyhave theirbrainsin theirfingers" disegno, mani). "See SvetlanaAlpers,TheArtofDescribing: DutchArtin theSeventeenth (Chicago: Century of Chicago Press,1983), esp. chap. 3, fora discussionof"craft"in Netherlandish University painting. Edition 12OnBruegel's associationwith Clovio, see Grossmann, Pieter Bruegel: Complete 3d ed., 16. The last will and inventory of Clovio were both publishedin A. ofthePaintings, dei miniatori Giulio Clovio, Bertolotti, (Modena: Vincenzi e Nipoti, 1882), 11. principe 13For discussionof Giulio Clovio withinthe contextof his artistic milieu,see JohnW. GiulioClovio, 1498-1578:His Lifeand Works Hessink, Miniaturist, Bradley, (Amsterdam: Giorgio 1971). 14Fora discussionof the various interpretations of Bruegel's treatment of the Towerof see Gibson,"Mirror Klamt,"Anmerkungen Babel, Earth,", ofthe chap.5. See also,Johann-Christian zu PieterBruegel'sBabel-Darstellungen," in Pieter undseineWelt, ed. Otto von Simson Bruegel und MatthiasWinner (Berlin: Mann, 1979); StevenA. Mansbach,"PieterBruegel's Tower of 45 (1982): 43-56; Helmut Minkowsky, Aus demNebel Babel," Zeitschriiftfirr Kunstgeschichte derVergangenheit derTurmzu Babel.Bilderaus 1000Jahren (Berlin: Rembrandt-Verlag, steight Altumer des FlaviusJosephus 1960), 48-77; Christian Tumpel, "Die RezeptionderJudischen in der HollandischenHistoriendarstellungen in Wort undBild des 16. und 17. Jahrhunderts,"

This content downloaded from on Fri, 5 Apr 2013 09:42:58 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

Pieter & Italy 209 Bruegel of thisbiblical subject culturewith Italian models. While the illustration rare.Bruegel may well was not new at the time,it was still considerably with illustrations of the themein theFarnese Hoursand have been familiar in the GrimaniBreviary.1 He would have had access to both illustrated volumes in Italy,throughClovio. One would like to thinkthatthiswere the case, since one of the mostpeculiaraspectsof thispaintingis the way thatBruegel deviatesfrompictorialtradition. More specifically, the artist of the text in a highly meaningfuland has modernizedthe illustration originalway.16




_-y its

. ...

anddated1563. Oil theElder, TheTower Signed ofBabel. Fig. 1. Pieter Bruegel Vienna. on panel,44-1/2x 61 in. (114 x 155 cm).Kunsthistorisches Museum, bypermission Reprinted
ed. Hermann Vekeman in Niederandischen Kunst und Literatur des 16. und 17. Jahrhunderts, undJustus Miller Hofstede(Erftstadt Lukassen,1984), 177-81; R. Fritz,"Die Darstellungen derDeutschen des Turmbauszu Babel in der Bildenden Kunst,"Mitteilungen Orientgesellschaft 71 (1932): 15 if l5It has been suggestedthatBruegel collaborated with Clovio on the Farnse Hours,see Charles de Tolnay, "FurtherMiniaturesby Pieter Bruegel the Elder," Burlington Magazine 122 (1980): 616-23; Gibson,Bruege(New York: Oxford University Press,1977), 28, states thatBruegel cannothave paintedthesepages since theFarese Hourswas completedin 1546, some yearsbeforeBruegel's associationwith Clovio in Rome. this themein Italy.A paintingby Bruegel on 16Bruegel appearsto have alreadytreated of Clovio. ivorydepictingThe Tower ofBabel is listedin the inventory

This content downloaded from on Fri, 5 Apr 2013 09:42:58 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions


The Sixteenth XXIII/2 (1992) CenturyJournal

The most originalaspectof Bruegel's treatment of the Tower ofBabel is thathe modeled the edificeon the Roman Colosseum. While thismay be relatedto his own travelsto Italy,it is more closely connectedto sets ofRomanruins in theearly1550s.17 thatCock hadpublished The Colosseum in a quite significant enteredinto Cock's ruinproduction way. in Romanruins The wayin whichCock's interest informed thementality of Netherlandish painters at mid-centuryis evident in Maerten van Heemskerck's witha ViewoftheColosseum, SelfPortrait completedin 1552 We need Van with his this Heemskerck (fig.2). only compare by painting to 1532 paintingof Saint Luke Painting the Virgin (fig. 3) appreciatethe of sense that Netherlandish had themselves newly emerging by painters the mid-1550s.18 In the earlierpaintingvan Heemskerckshows the artist in the traditional Netherlandish guise of Saint Luke paintingthe Virgin, thus asserting the earlier commitment of Netherlandishart to religious In the later of the artist, we see a self-portrait however, purposes. painting, who assumesa strikingly self-conscious as he out at the viewer gazes pose and asserts his commitment to classicalculture.19 Van Heemskerck's painting setsout, in fact,to contradict the status of Netherlandish paintingas craft. The relationshipof Bruegel's painting to Van Heemskerck'swork fullclarification receives onlyin the lightof ItalianRenaissancearttheory. In his De re aedificatoria (1453-70), Leon BattistaAlberti made a firm distinction between the architect as craftsman and as genius:"To run up that is for anything immediately necessary any particular purpose ... is not so much the businessof the architect as of a commonworkman;but to raise an edificewhich is to be completein everypart,and to consider and providebeforehand forsuch a work, this is the necessary everything businessof thatcomprehensive genius."20
17SeeRiggs,Hieronymus cat. nos. 1-25, 256-66 and nos. 98-130, 291-306. Cock,155ff., They include nine views of the Colosseum. '8It is not clear whetherthe artist The of Van Heemskerck. is a self-portrait portrayed themewas previously such as Rogier van Netherlandish artists depictedby otherprominent der Weyden and Jan Gossaert,though again it is not absolutelycertainthat these include of the painters. self-portraits in the remains 19Thefirst to travelto Rome and become interested Netherlandish painter of classicalantiquity was Jan Gossaert, who was in Rome from1508 to 1511. It appearsthat self-consciousness on the part of Netherlandishartistswas closely connected to a direct with Italy. encounter 20QuotedfromJoan Gadol, Leon Battista Universal Man of theEarlyRenaissance Alberti: of Chicago Press,1969), 134. "Ma, primadi procedere oltre,credo (Chicago: The University Giacche non prender6 utile chiarire che cose, secondo me, si debba intendere per architetto. ai pii qualificati certoin considerazione un carpentiere, esponentidelle altre per paragonarlo il lavorodel carpentiere infatti non e che strumentale a quello dell'architetto. discipline: rispetto chiamer6colui che con me todo sicuroe perfetto razionalmente Architetto sappia progettare e realizzare praticamente, attraverso lo spostamentodei pesi e mediantela riunione e la bisogni congiunzionedei corpi, opere che nel modo miglioresi adattinoai piu importanti dell'uomo."

This content downloaded from on Fri, 5 Apr 2013 09:42:58 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

Pieter Bruegl & Italy 211


Behind.Signed and dated 1555. Oil on panel, 16- 1/2 x 21- 1/4 in. (42.2 x 54
cm). Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge. Reprinted by permission

e.::.'. Sigmd larpiecc LIrirrd

.... ? ~ 'i,

',:~.~,~!' : ...-"*



Oil on panel, 6 . -1/

. ?16


cm). ? .


3.Merc Fig. ~

gitL e a cmkrk ~~ ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~E


h an h ;~/, io

Luke Al~~~~~~~~~~~taie.Oionpel66x9-2i.(18x25c. FramH Museum,Haarlem. Reprinted by permission~~~~~~~~~ The Saint from theVirgin LukePainting Saint vanHeemskerck, Fig. 3. Maerten Hals Oil on panel,66 x 92-1/2in. (168 x 235 cm). Frans LukeAltarpiece. Museum, Harlem,.Reprinted bypermission

This content downloaded from on Fri, 5 Apr 2013 09:42:58 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions


The Sixteenth XXIII/2 (1992) Century Journal

It is in thiscontext thatbehindhisown self-portrait ofsomesignificance an artist before theColosseumand drawing van Heemskerck seated portrays to the designingof the structure it. While this is clearlynot a reference which is to say, itself, drawingin Italian arttheorydid exemplify disegno, and which be thatpartof artistic was to which considered learned, activity also servedas a unifying bond among the visual arts.21 werefundamentally in hisDe reaedificatoria The viewsputforth byAlberti made betweencreative the he and indeed distinction Vitruvius, by inspired endeavor and manual work goes back to Vitruviushimself.22 Notably, had been Vitruvius's De Architectura, as well as some of Serlio's writings, formby Bruegel's alleged teacher, translated and publishedin summary PieterCoecke van Aelst,in 1539 and 1550.23 of the Tower One of the mostinnovative aspectsof Bruegel'streatment This ofBabel is the emphasishe gives to the mechanicsof construction.24 was a part of the narrative thatwas generallyignoredor downplayedby While Bruegel's concern in the actual construction of the other artists. the artist towercan mostcertainly be explainedby the narrative itself, may have selected the theme partlyfor what it allowed in portraying the Colosseum, which duringthe Renaissancewas one of the most hallowed and and an exampleof Vitruvian theory. examplesof classicalarchitecture in the building is clearlydemonstrated His interest by the factthat in a slightlylaterversion(fig. 4) the artistremovedthe historical personages and let the architecture itselfportray the text.

21Cf.n. 10 above. For a discussionof the importance of the conceptof disegno in Italian art theory, see Maurice Poirier,"The Role of Disegnoin Mid-Sixteenth CenturyFlorence," of Notre Dame in The Age of Vasari(Notre Dame, Ind.and Binghamton,N.Y.: University and University of New York, 1970). See also Gadol, Leon Battista 132 ff. Alberti, 22Fora discussionof Alberti'srelationship see Gadol, LeonBattista to Vitruvius, Alberti, 105 ff. Pierre 23OnPieterCoecke van Aelst,see GeorgesMarlier, Flamande. Coecke La Renaissance d'Alost(Brussels:Finck, 1966). 24Thisis pointedout by Gibson, "Mirror Earth,", Klein, chap. 5. See also H. Arthur ofthe American 238, no. 3 "Bruegel the Elder as a Guide to 16th-Century Technology,"Scientific (March, 1978): 134-40.

This content downloaded from on Fri, 5 Apr 2013 09:42:58 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

Pieter & Italy 213 Bruegel



Datablec. 1564. Oil on TheTower theElder, ofBabel. Bruegel Fig. 4. Pieter Boymans-van Beunigen, panel,23-1/2x 29-1/4in. (60 x 74.5 cm).Museum Rotterdam. bypermission Reprinted

has to do Yet it may be asked what all this concernwith architecture with painting?In the Renaissancetheredid exist a veryclear connection betweenthe two. In the sixteenth century, paintingin Italycould and did virtue of itsconnection to mathematics status claim a humanist by primarily More fundamentally, and geometry.25 however,it was by way of painted
that Alberti 5It was primarily by virtueof the bond between paintingand literature claimed a humaniststatusfor painting.In his treatiseon painting,published in 1435-36 with poets,rhetoricians Albertiadvised that, ... each paintershould make himselffamiliar or at least aid in and othersequally well learned in letters. They will give new inventions beautifully throughwhich the painterwill surelyacquire much praise composingthe istoria thathe had learned confessed and renownin his painting.Phidias,morefamousthanpainters, Thus we who are more fromHomer, the poet, how to paintJove with much divine majesty. eager to learnthan to acquirewealth will learnfromour poets more and morethingsuseful on Paintingrev. ed. (New Alberti to painting";quoted fromJohn R. Spencer,Lan Battista that Press, 1966), 91. It was only in the sixteenth century Haven/London: Yale University sciences. the case forthe humaniststatusof paintingwas made by way of the mathematical

This content downloaded from on Fri, 5 Apr 2013 09:42:58 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions


Journal The Sixteenth XXIII/2 (1992) Century

architecture thatone-point as well as proportionate relationships, perspective, of the were realizedwithinpaintings.26 Notably,all threeleadingpainters also and were Renaissance Leonardo, Michelangelo, High Raphael this was not the with Netherlandish architects. While case accomplished one of the most prominent aspectsof Romanistpaintingin the painters, is the extentto which classicalarchitecture, in both a ruined Netherlands In this way, Netherlandish and completedstate,enteredinto theirart.27 to make a claim forthe paintersused the Italian paradigmof architecture LiberalArtsstatusof painting. in Italian art about the relationship The classical statement between The and architecture is made in School Athens. of painting painting Raphael's is at one levela tour-de-force in terms ofarchitectural construction, perspective and surely was intended as suchby theartist.28 architecture Raphael'spainted into a in effect measured sense of visible as reality stipulated Renaissance puts and geometry art theory.Mathematics are illustrated in the personagesof ofharmonies in the left who demonstrates his Pythagoras system foreground, on a slate,and Euclid on the right,who in the guise of Bramante,draws a circle on a tablet. These two groups are given prominenceby their of the painting. Notably, Raphael includes location in the foreground and himselfin the fresco,off to the right behind the mathematicians not of a with is without The Ptolemy. Ptolemy significance coupling painter
architecture itself was viewed as an imitative naturein 26Moreover, art,which rendered her ideal state.See Gadol, Leon Battista 28ff.The Italian Renaissanceconcernwith Alberti, and mathematics in relationship in the Middle Ages; to architecture was anticipated geometry see UmbertoEco, "The Aesthetics of Proportion," in Artand Beauty in the MiddleAges(New Haven: Yale University Press,1986), 28ff,and Otto von Simpson,"Measure and Light,"in The Gothic Cathedral (New York: Harper & Row, 1962), 21ff.

and Amphritite 27See,for instance, (1516; StaatlicheMuseen zu Jan Gossaert'sNeptune van Orley'sAltarpiece Ordeals Berlin),Bernard (1521; MuseesRoyauxdes Beaux-Arts, ofJob ofthe theAltarof theUnknown Brussels),and LambertLombard'sSaint Denis and Saint Paul Before God (c. 1540; Musee de l'ArtWallon, Liege). A curiousfeature of all theseworksis thatthe artistsoffertheir own freelyinventedversionsof classical buildings. This appears to be of the way in which classical architecture entersinto most sixteenth-century characteristic Netherlandish Maertenvan Heemskerck is unusualin thatthe classicalarchitecture paintings. tendsto faithfully render in his paintings Amongall of theso-called specific antiquebuildings. in the Netherlands, Romanist Van Heemskerck was mostconcerned witharchitecture. painters of his drawingsin Rome were done afterarchitectural The majority edifices;see Christian von Martenvan Heemskerck Hulsen and Hermann Egger, eds., Die romischen Skizzenbucher (Soest, Holland: Davaco, 1975). ofarchitecture 28For a discussion in Raphael'spaintings, see Gianfranco Raffaello: Spagnesi, e realita discusses Bramante's L'architettura 1984). Spagnesi (Rome: Multigrafica, "picta," percezione influenceon Raphael and the importanceof architecture in Raphael's paintings.See also un nuovo metodoper costruire SimonetteValtieri,"La Scuola d'Atene. Bramantesuggerisce in prospettive in Florenz un'architettura desKunsthistorischen Institutes armonica," Mitteilungen 16 no. 1 (1972): 63-72; Paolo Morachiello, Vitruvio e Raffaelo: il "De architectura" di Vitruvio traduzione inedita di Fabia Calvoravennate (Rome: Officina, 1975); WarmanWelliver,"Symbolic 35 no. 4 (1972): Art Quarterly Meaning in Leonardo's and Raphael's Painted Architecture," 343-74.

This content downloaded from on Fri, 5 Apr 2013 09:42:58 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

Pieter & Italy 215 Bruegel in thattheancient had indicated thattheidea ofproportionality philosopher to both "As and in an entirepainting,"he applied geography painting: must firstput the larger wrote, "we [geographersand chorographers] and afterward those detailedfeatures which portraits and pictures features, may require to give them proportionin relationto one anotherso that of Bramante's architecture and Raphael'spaintedarchitecture underpinnings are metaphorically into the conveyedin the stepsthatfigureprominently Vitruvius statedthatonly painting'sarchitectural setting.In his writings, those personswere truearchitects "who fromboyhood have mountedby the stepsof thesevariousstudiesand sciences,have reachedthe templeof architecture at the top."30 Not only is a connectionmade betweenartand but also architecture standsas a paradigmforall the visual arts. learning, to AntwerpfromItaly,the By the mid-1550s,when Bruegel returned between paintingand the Liberal Artswas a concernamong relationship artists.31 FransFloris,Bruegel's leading Romanistcontemporary, designed a setof paintings the LiberalArtsforNiclaes Jonghelinck, soon illustrating to becomeBruegel'smaecenas. Florisalso provideddesignsfora setofprints the Liberal Artsfor HieronymusCock.32In 1550, the Italian illustrating engraver, Giorgio Ghisi, did a large and impressive printafterRaphael's SchoolofAthens (fig. 5) for Cock.33This printwas dedicatedto Perrenot, who was also to become one of Bruegel's patronsin the 1560s.34 In his design fora printillustrating Temperance(fig.6), done in the late 1550s as partof a set of prints the VirtuesforHieronymus illustrating
their correct measure . . . can be seen by examining them.29The Vitruvian

from ".. .wherePtolemy's Gadol,LeonBattista 71, who states, Alberti, 29Quoted comparison between a pictureand a map was a loose one, Albertitrnsformed the relationinto a strict, technicalconnection." 130. 30QuotedfromGadol, Leon Battista Alberti, 31This in fact is demonstrated in Zirka Zaremba Filipczak,Picturing Art in Antwerp, 1550-1700 (Princeton: Princeton ofthisin relationship Press,1987). For a discussion University to sixteenth-century see 11-57. paintingin Antwerp, 32SeeGibson,"Artists and Rederijkers in theAge of Bruegel,"ArtBulletin 43 (September 1981): 434ff.: "The Seven Liberal Artsseems to have been an especiallypopular theme in Antwerp.In addition to the picturecycle that he [FransFloris] executed forJonghelinck, referred to above,Florismade a setof designsof theSeven LiberalArts, which Cock published as printsin 1551." Cock,267-69, cat. nos. 26-35. 4Riggs,Hieronymus for Cock 33Thiswas one of five large engravings thatGhisi did afterItalian paintings in the 1550s. See Riggs,Hieronymus Cock,47ff. 340n Granvelleas a patronof the arts,see Maurice Piquard,"Le Cardinalde Granvelle, les artistes RevueBelge17 (1947-48): 133-47. et les ecrivains,"

This content downloaded from on Fri, 5 Apr 2013 09:42:58 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions


The Sixteenth Journal XXIH/2 (1992) Century


after TheSchol ofAthens. Ghisi, 20-1/4x Engraving, Fig. 5. Giorgio Raphael, 32 in. (51.4 x 81.3 cm).Museum Boston. of FineArts, permission by Reprinted _,? .?w

The Seven Fig. 6. Philip Gall, afterPieterBruegel the Elder, Temperancefrom of x 29.2 National in. x Virtues. Gallery cm). (22.2 8-3/4 11-1/2 Engraving, by permission Art,Rosenwald Collection. Washington,D. C. Reprinted

This content downloaded from on Fri, 5 Apr 2013 09:42:58 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

Pieter & Italy 217 Bruegel in his artistic If milieu.35 Cock, Bruegel respondedto these developments thereis any questionregarding the matter of theoretical concernsentering into Bruegel's TowerofBabel,his treatment of "Temperance"should allay such doubts. The print is not only based on Raphael's fresco,but also addressesitself to the meaning of Raphael's painting.36 What initially ourrecognition obliterates of Raphaelas theunderlying sourceofinspiration for Bruegel's design is the artist'shaving turnedthe frontally organized ofRaphaelintoan obliqueview.This undermining ofRaphael's composition constructed setsthe agenda forthe restof theprint. classically composition At issue in Bruegel's print,as in Raphael's painting,is the statusof the visual arts,paintingin particular. Bruegel has includedthe visual arts with the Liberal Arts,which themselvesare a substitute for Raphael's "ancient schools of learning."37 An architectscales a column, a sculptor works on a figureand a paintersits at his easel, paletteand mahlstick in hand. The illustration of Temperancewith the LiberalArtsis unusual,but of Temperanceas "measure." maybe explainedby Bruegel's interpretation Measureis in thisprint manifest in thegroupofmeasuring figures illustrating and surveyor.38 More architect, astronomer, Geometry: sculptor, geographer, "measure"is intendedto be understoodin this printin terms important, of Italian arttheory.It is of some significance thatwhile the sculptor and architectare doing what is dictatedby Italian art theory,the painteris excluded fromthe businessof measuring. At the same time,Bruegel has, in accordancewith Italianarttheory, with mathematics, joined the painter but he has then undermined this learnedsense of the artist by portraying themathematicians themselves as money-changers. Here,in a very forthright
35See J. G. van Gelderand JanBorms,Bruegel'sZeven Deugden en Zeven Hoofzondon De Spieghel, 1939), 35ff., and Carl Stridbeck,"Die Tugenden," (Amsterdam/Antwerp: Studien (Stockholm:Almquist& Wiksell, 1956), 162-70. Bruegel noticed therelationship betweenBruegel'sdesignand Raphael,butneglected 36Grossmann to deal with the meaning of the print in relationshipto the painting. See Grossmann, fir Kurt Badt "Bruegel's Verhaltniszu Raffaelund zur RaffaelNachfolge," in Festschrift (Berlin: De Gruyter, 1961), 140. 37The illustration of Temperance with the Liberal Arts is entirelynew here. For a of the illustration of the LiberalArtsin the Middle Ages, see E. Male, "The Mirror discussion of Instruction," in The GothicImage(New York: Harper & Row, 1958); and James Hall, and Symbols (New York: Harper & Row, 1979), 278 ff.For discussion Dictionary ofSubjects of the illustration of the Virtues,see Hall, idem, 297 and A. Katzenellenbogen, "Allegories of the Virtuesand Vices in Medieval Art,"Studies 10 (London: 1939). Institute oftheWarburg - with a Virtuewas, however, This joining of the LiberalArts- the visual artsin particular in RenaissanceItaly,and was morespecifically commonamonghumanists a topicofdiscussion among those makinga humanistclaim forthe visual arts.For a discussionof"Art as Virtu" in RenaissanceItaly,see LeatriceMendelsohn,Paragone. Benedetto "Due Lezzione"and Varchi's Art Theory, (Ann Arbor:UMI ResearchPress, 1978), 47-52. Cinquecento the Renaissancein Italythe methods of the surveyor were adoptedby sculptors. 38During See Gadol, Leon Battista 76. There is some significance in Bruegel's having located Alberti, the surveyor just behind the sculptor.

This content downloaded from on Fri, 5 Apr 2013 09:42:58 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions


The Sixteenth XXIII/2 (1992) Century Journal

is asserting as craft, and as such,as something way,theartist activity pictorial directedat financialgain. Such a connectionis made again in the 1560s and theConnoisseur in his drawing of The Artist (fig.7), where we see a him and next to a connoisseur witha prominently at his easel, standing painter of the The forthby Bruegel money image put painter displayed purse.39 to Italian humanist art also to another not but theory significant only speaks of Flemish Giventhenotionthatpersisted painting. aspectof Netherlandish paintingas an art of landscape,it is worth pointing out that landscape of painting. categories appearsthento have been one of the morelucrative As a major exportitem to Italy,landscapepaintingdid in factcontribute to the thrivingcommercialeconomy of sixteenth-century significantly of 1604 anticipates While Carel van Mander's Het Schilderboek Antwerp. of Dutch paintingof the seventeenth it also looks the flowering century, back to Netherlandishtraditionof the sixteenthcentury, when in the opening lines of the life of Patinir,the authorstates: The famousand imposingcityof Antwerp, because of propserous attracted the mosteminentartists frommanyparts, its commerce, and in large numbers, since artflourishes where thereis wealth.40 is made about an artistwho first It is no accidentthat such a statement established of art,who had a large workshop,and landscapeas a category who with the help of a workshopproduceda large quantity of landscape paintings.41 While landscape was a prevailingconcernin Bruegel's art fromthe startof his careeruntil his death, he did in fact produce his landscapes different fromthose of his two leading accordingto conditionsentirely Patinirand Henri Met de Bles. Bruegel did not, as theydid, predecessors nor did he mass-produce as his have a largeworkshop, landscapepaintings Met de Bles, seemsto have done. Unlike much of immediate predecessor, the production of his predecessors, Bruegel's landscapeswere not done for export nor for an open market.It is firmlyestablishedthat Bruegel's landscapeswere executedfora limitedand exclusiveclienteleof patrons. and inventiveness evidentin Bruegel'slandscape The extraordinary variety by the set of twelvelandscapesthathe did forCock, anticipated paintings, is entirelyin keeping with the conditions according to which they
of this drawingas but not veryconvincinginterpretation 39SeeStridbeck's interesting Studien a learned image of the painterin "Der Maler und der Kenner,"Bruegel presenting (Stockholm:Almquist& Wiksell, 1956), 15ff. Patinir(Princeton:PrincetonUniversityPress, 40Quoted from Robert Koch, Joachim is based upon the first editionofHetSchilderboek (Haarlem: 1604), 1968), 8. Koch's translation fol. 219r, and upon the modernDutch edition,which follows the second editionof 1618, van Carel van Mander, 3rd printing, Het Schilder-Boek 1946), 68. (Amsterdam, 41See Gibson, "Mirror the 1. Earth,", of chap.

This content downloaded from on Fri, 5 Apr 2013 09:42:58 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

Pider Brwl

& Italy 219

? ::;"'.' :":'"':' ":. ~.~:.'.' - ........ ....--. .. \..

__E_........ ...

.. ..... :.i' ..........



. :,

P .... _ &: -:i

S X _.,.. *

:..,. ~



. . . . ?~~~"'~ "LP'pzl ----~ ~ ',," ~~~'~~~~~, ."EC ,:.:: ? ? . . ....::%1-s . . . . ,~.:~..~s


::/::: .L



....... : ~~~~~~*~.~,? :'~,':' ~.,.: ...~:.~ i.... " .........'~~>''.

,. :~.t

.. .::~~".

.. ....,

:~ ...

p-~~~~~~ ..,~'~:'. .- ::'.,i :'C'~':" . ? ~.~~:".:': :. I?~ . ' ' '' .. ~h',t, i!"', ...




7. Pi~"t :Bmegd be EiL~~E?, ~ ~Pi t~~~~~~~?. Yig. andink on paper, 11-3/4? 8-1/2 ~~~~~~~~~? X in.(9.8?2.

-rmt-l Vienn b~?~


by pem ssion

l~ r . 5568 m..GahceSmln



This content downloaded from on Fri, 5 Apr 2013 09:42:58 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions


The Sixteenth XXIII/2 (1992) Century Journal

a lowlyimageof theNetherlandish wereproduced. While theartist putforth in his career as a of him, landscapepainterarguesprecisely painter pictures to the contrary. to theApostles on the withChrist The Patiniresque Landscape Appearing no longerappearsto have been executedby Bruegel,yet it Sea of Tiberias of his careerwith a strong is clearthatBruegelemergedin Italyat the start to the Netherlandish world landscape,as popularized in the attachment The firstquarterof the sixteenthcenturyin the paintingsof Patinir.42 into which as a figured Bruegel's reputation landscape Alpine drawings way, and which were done eitheron his painterin such an important sense inspired from)Italy,are in a quite fundamental journeyto (or return at the rock the same time fantastic formations so nature; by typicalof the with this the sourceof Bruegel's fascination world landscapeare certainly to of What has done here is Bruegel landscape. simply particulartype submitpictorialconventionto the experienceof natureherself. Bruegel's to the world landscape of Patinir is also evident in two commitment landscapeprintsforwhich he produceddesignswhile in Italy.43 One of Bruegel's earliest extant paintingsfollowing his returnto withtheFall ofIcarus(fig. 8), which was repeated Antwerpis his Landscape invention version.44 to hisown artistic in a second,nearly identical Returning his artistic in his Landscape withtheFall ofIcarusprint,Bruegel sets forth The agenda vis-a-visboth Italian and Netherlandish pictorialtraditions.45 underlying conceptionof the paintingis the world landscape,which the artist has, as it were, reinvented. withthe A usefulcomparison can be made betweenBruegel'sLandscape withtheParableoftheSower(fig. 9), which Fall ofIcarusand his Landscape bearsa farcloserresemblance is signedand dated1557. The earlier landscape which gives a sense to the world landscape in the bird's-eye perspective,

42Thiswork was previously thoughtto have been executedby Bruegel in Italy. Recent laboratoryexaminationof the painting stronglysuggests,however, that it is not of the sixteenth century. On Patinir and the world landscape, see Detlef Zinke, Patinir's zur Landschaftsmalerei im 16. Jahrhundert "Weltlandschaft": Studien undMaterialen (Frankfurt a.M./Bern/LasVegas: Peter Lang, 1977). Raisonne,177ff.These printsare signed and dated: PetrusBreugel 43Lebeer, Catalogue Romae 1554/Excused:Houf: cum prae Caes. They were engravedbyJorisHoefnaegel,who it appearsalso added the classical subjectmatter.One printdepictsa River Landscapewith the Fall of Icarus; the otherdepictsa River Landscapewith Mercury AbductingPsyche. mostrecently ofthispainting to Bruegelhas occasionally been doubted, 44Theattribution CharletonLecture byJohnE. T. C. White, "PieterBruegeland the Fall of theArtHistorian," on Art Delivered in the Universityof Newcastle on Tyne, 1980. For discussionof the Officedu livre,1974). see PhilippeRoberts-Jones, La Chutd'Icare (Fribourg: Bruegel. painting, 45The Icarus theme appears to have had a particular appeal for Bruegel. Bruegel also included this episode in one of his printsof a ship that formedpart of a series of prints cat. no. 44. different Raisonne, illustrating typesof ships. See Lebeer,Catalogue

This content downloaded from on Fri, 5 Apr 2013 09:42:58 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

& Italy 221 Pieter Bruegel



...-. .

withtheFall f IcarusDatable c. Fig. 8. PieterBruegel the Elder,Landscape 1558. 29 x 44-1/8 2-r, ."',l _~ Oil on . ~ in.~(73.7 x ~112.3 cm). ~ Muses ~ Royaux ~ des canvas, Beaux-Artsde Belgique, Brussels.Reprinted by permission


~~~~~~ .:~,'

_ :::~;:.
, .",~:- , .

... 4 ~~~~~~~~~~

Fig. 9. PieterBruegel the Elder,Landsape wit theParableoftheSower.Signed and dated 1557. Oil on canvas,29 x 40 in. (74 x 102 cm). Timken Art Gallery San Diego. Reprinted by permission

This content downloaded from on Fri, 5 Apr 2013 09:42:58 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions


The Sixteenth XXIII/2 (1992) Century Journal

of distance to foreground as well as background.In the Fall of Icarus, Still Bruegel has done no less than introducean Italian sense of space.46 the sense of vast distance,characteristic of the world landscape, retaining and so admiredby the Italians,Bruegelnow attempted to physically locate the viewerwithinthe work of art.He did thisby providinga foreground which corresponds in scale to the viewer outsidethe painting, and which also functionsas a ledge fromwhich the viewer may position himself as he gazes out to the worldbeyond.No longeraccommodating physically itselfto the "rovingeye of God," the world landscapehas been adjusted to thehumanscaleof theviewer.While thismaybe contradicted somewhat by the view down on to the peasant,this spatialambivalenceis resolved in Bruegel'smonumental set of landscapesof the 1560s (fig. 10), done for his Antwerpmaecenas, Niclaes Jonghelinck. The introduction of thisnew spatial sense to the world landscape formulamay be understoodon one level as the desireto depictnaturein a more convincingmanner;it is at the same timealso an adaptation fromItalian art.The impactof Italianart is also evident in thedominant role givento thefigures withinthelandscape setting. It is not merelyRenaissancepaintingthatentersinto Bruegel'sFall of Icarus,but also the concern with classical architecture among Bruegel's touched upon above. The crescent-shaped contemporaries, portvisible in the distanceof Bruegel's Icarusis laterrepeatedin his ViewofNaples (fig. in the ViewofNaples is that the actual port of 11). What is noteworthy is in buttrapezoidal. Bruegel'sinaccuracy Naples not, fact, crescent-shaped, deviatesfromthe mannerin which the port of Naples was depictedby otherartists. His reconstruction of the port of Naples may, however,be understood in relationship to Vitruvius, who recommended thatportsbe rounded.47 While the emphasisgiven to the peasantin Bruegel'sportrayal of the classical text is his characteristic reversalof conventionalpriorities (i.e., historicalnarrative vs. the mundane),the peasant and the natureof his with respectto issues regarding the natureof activity may be understood artistic endeavor.48 What we see hereis a peasantwho is literally submitting natureto geometry, The same hence, an Italian sense of picture-making. observation in fact be made the workers in about might Bruegel's Tower who are the natural rock of the earth foundations transforming ofBabel,
46Fora discussionof the different of Italian and Flemishpaintingin spatialconceptions the Renaissance,see Gadol, Leon Battista 163 ff. Alberti, 47SeeMorrisHicky Morgan, Vitruvius. The Ten BooksofArchitecture (New York: Dover, and Shipyards." 1914), chap. 12, "Harbors,Breakwaters, 48For a discussionof the peasantin Bruegel'sFall ofIcarus, see RobertBaldwin,"Peasant 55 (1986): 101-14, and Ethan Imageryand Bruegel's Fall ofIcarus,"Konsthistorisk Tijdskrift Matt Kavaler, "Pieter Bruegel's Fall of Icarusand the Noble Peasant,"Jahrbuch Antwerpen (1986): 83-98.

This content downloaded from on Fri, 5 Apr 2013 09:42:58 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

Pieter & Italy 223 Bruegel


in the theElder, Hunters Snow. and dated1565. Bruegel Fig. 10. Pieter Signed Oil on panel,46 x 63-3/4in. (117 x 162 cm).Vienna, Kunsthistorisches Museum. bypermission Reprinted



theElder,Viw ofNales. Datable1562-63.Oil on Bruegel Fig. 11. Pieter panel,15-1/2x 27-1/4in. (39.8 x 69.5 cm). Galeria Doria,Rome.Reprinted bypermission

This content downloaded from on Fri, 5 Apr 2013 09:42:58 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions


The Sixteenth Journal XXIII/2 (1992) Century

In a more fundamental into a Colosseum-likestructure. sense,the peasant to the to the landscape land be understood as a reference may givingshape in to nature. as it is that Understood such, noteworthy painter relationship attentionis given again, as in the Towerof Babel, to manual labor - a paradigm,as it were, forcreativeeffort. At the same time, the image of the artistas one who fabricates the in relationship to sixteenth-century worldmaybe understood Italiannotions In additionto the connectionmade in Italyduring about artistic creativity. theRenaissance betweenthevisualartsand learning, artistic endeavorcame in the sixteenth to be associatedwith the creativepowersof God century himself.49 Given Bruegel's preoccupation with landscapethroughout his career, it is perhaps of somerelevance thatthePromethean senseof artistic creativity that arose during the sixteenthcenturywas associated with landscape Italian art was at one level committed painting.While fifteenth-century to the notion of mimesis,which is to say "perfect" imitation, duringthe sixteenth thisconcernwas replacedby thenotionoffantasia, where century a premiumwas put on the way in which artisticcreativity surpassed nature.50 Oddly enough, landscape, which throughoutthe Renaissance stood as livingevidenceof the power of artas imitation, was now used as an instancein which artists in re-fabricating could be like God the creator the world accordingto theirown conditions. both the narratives of the TowerofBabel and the Fall of Significantly, Icarus deal withincidents related to thisPromethean senseofartistic endeavor.
49InRenaissanceItaly,the notion of the artistas God was closely connectedwith the andfantasia. da Vinci: This is fullydiscussedin MartinKemp,Leonardo conceptsof invenzione and Man (Cambridge,Mass.: HarvardUniversity The Marvelous Works Press,1981). ofNature See chap. on "The Exercise of Fantasia," 162ff.Quoting fromthe writingsof Leonardo, God: painting'is not only Kemp states". . . the painteris in the positionof a microcosmic a matter of sciencebut also a divinity, the name of which should be duly reveredand which repeatsthe worksof God and the most high."' Kemp goes on to say,"At the highestlevel, of the greatest the exerciseoffantasia was a matter therefore, consequence.Like Dante's alta - the conceptof 'elevatedimagination' which Leonardowould have known fromhis fantasia - the visual artist'sfaculty of inventiongave and Convivio readingof the Divinia commedia him a 'divine' power to fabricate a universewhich existedparallel to the his own universe, real one" (162). 50Further discussion of fantasia is Martin Kemp's "From Mimesis to Fantasia: The QuattrocentoVocabularyof Creation, Inspirationand Genius in the Visual Arts,"Viator. 8 (1977): 346-98. Fantasiais also discussedin David Summers, andRenaissance Studies Medieval and theLanguage Press,1981), esp. pt. 1, University Michelangelo ofArt(Princeton:Princeton on which Italianarttheory 33-284. Whereas mimesiswas the primary foundation "Fantasy," While mimesis was founded, in the sixteenth mimesiscame to be replacedbyfantasia. century was closelyassociatedin the fifteenth with history century paintingand didacticconcernsin fantasiawas associatedwith sensory painting(i.e., moral elevation), experienceand with the of knowledge-based or sensory And while mimesis, acquisitionand manipulation experience. as defined in Italianarttheory, was fullyrealizedin painting,fantasia was neverfullyrealized in Italianart,at least by way of landscape- not even in the landscapesof Leonardo himself.

This content downloaded from on Fri, 5 Apr 2013 09:42:58 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

Pieter & Italy 225 Bruegel In both works the texts depicted describeprotagonists who attemptto exceed theirlimitsas humanbeings.Icarusattempts and theIsraelites flight In to human limits. both erect a tower that instances, beyond goes attempt these protagonists are put in theirplace by the God or gods whom they in effect challenge. In Bruegel's Fall ofIcarusthis point is broughthome itselfgives way to the mundaneand to by the way in which the narrative the non-significance of Icarus in the landscape. Bruegel submitsto the paradox, if not to say the realityof artistic in thathe alludesto boththegeniusand craft of artistic creativity, production. And it may be noted that Daedalus, the fatherof Icarus,was known as and inventor. Interestingly both craftsman enough, this two-foldsense is acknowledgedby Leonardo, who, turningto the of artisticcreativity thatwhich is in theuniverse instance of landscape,comments ". . . in effect, has it first in "thishead he [theartist] by essence,presenceor imagination, and thenin his hands ...,52 So much forLampsonius'distinction between Italian and Netherlandish painting. At one level, we may understand on paintingas Bruegel's insistence craft, just as this adherenceto landscape,as partof the sixteenth-century of self-consciousness of the Netherlandish school of painting. development but also a celebration, of his own Bruegel's art is notjust an affirmation, and this came at a time when painters in the Netherlands were tradition, to elevateNetherlandish artby attaching themselves to Italian attempting art and Italian notionsabout painting. In his returnto the world-landscapeand in his revival of Bosch, and indeed to an tradition, Bruegel looks back to the "old Netherlandish" "anti-classical" unaffected tradition, by Italianart.It is in thisway thatwe to Calvary, may in fact understand paintingssuch as Bruegel's Procession Netherlandish (fig.12), signedand dated 1564, which encapsulates painting of the fifteenth centuryand the firsthalf of the sixteenthcenturyin combininga Met de Bles landscapewith a quotationfromRoger van der Rebel So also maywe understand Weyden'sDeposition.53 Bruegel'sFall ofthe and dated which is done in the manner of 1562, Angels(fig. 13), signed Frans Floris' earlier Bosch, and is surelyintendedas a "comparison"to (1554) Michelangelesqueversion(fig. 14) of the same theme.

Handbook 51SeeEdward Tripp, Crowell's (New York: Thomas Y. of ClassicalMythology Crowell Company, 1970), 185. A Comparison Irma A. Richter, 52QuotedfromLeonardo'sParagone, oftheArts Paragone: da Vinci,(London/New York: Oxford University Press,1969), 52. 'Et ineffetto, byLeonardo esso l'ha primanella mente, ci6, ch'e nel' universoper essentia,presentia o'immaginatione, e poi nelle mani . . .' 53SeeGibson, "Mirror ofNature," chap. 5.

This content downloaded from on Fri, 5 Apr 2013 09:42:58 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions


The Sixteenth Journal XXIII/2 (1992) Century r! . .. .. ...

-' .

. .

to CalvarySigned and dated 1564. the Elder,Procession Fig. 12. PieterBrueggd Oil on panel, 48-3/4 x 67 in. (124 x 170 cm). Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna. Reprinted by permission



Fig. 13. PietcrBruegel the Elder. Fall ofte Rebe Angds.Signe and dated 1562. Oil on panel, 46 x 63-3/4 in. (117 x 162 cm). Muses Royaux des

Beaux-Arts de Belgique, Brussels. bypermission Reprinted

This content downloaded from on Fri, 5 Apr 2013 09:42:58 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

& Italy 227 Pieter Bruegel

x 86 Fall ofte Rebel Ands. 1554 Oil on panel,120-3/4 Floris, Fig. 14. Frans in. (307.3 x 218.4 cm). Koninklijk Museum voorSchoneKunsten, Antwerp. bypermission Reprinted

"i.: .-~_t' ... ~,--' i :'


. .... '~: '

anddated1565. Oil on TheHarveers. theElder, Signed Bruegel Fig. 15. Picter New ofArt, Museum x 160.7 46 1/2x 63 in. (118 panel, cm).Metropolitan 1919 Fund, York,Rogers bypermission (19.164). Reprinted

This content downloaded from on Fri, 5 Apr 2013 09:42:58 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions


The Sixteenth XXIII/2 (1992) Century Journal

set of decorativepaintingsthat Bruegel Turning to the magnificent we may Niclaes Jonghelinck, did in the 1560s forhis Antwerpmaecenas, this was what kind of statement ensemble now appreciate making(figs. just worldlandscapewithfifteenth10, 15).54 Combiningthesixteenth-century a monumental decoraNetherlandish calendar art, century Bruegelproduced tive ensemblesurelyintendedto stand on equal footingwith Italian art. This, in fact,is literallytrue in that the paintingshung in the company of two decorative sets of paintingsby the leading Romanist artistin worksby Floris at thetime,FransFloris.55 Notably,thedecorative Antwerp which is to say, illustrated The LiberalArts and The Laborsof Hercules, elevatedsubjectmatter.56 Taken together, the Italianatepaintingsof Floris and the landscapes of Bruegel embodied the "avant garde" of Netherlandish paintingin the At secondhalfof the sixteenth the same time,Bruegel'slandscape century. scale and its locationwith the Italianate cycle,by virtueof its monumental the way in whichNetherlandish of Floris,demonstrates paintings painting, as exemplified had by landscape, finallyarrived. whicharein a fundamental This couplingof two leadingpictorial trends, issue sense opposed to one another,suggestsa relationship to a prevailing in sixteenth-century arttheory, theParagone. TheParagone, or the"comparison betweenthe arts," was in the forefront of Italianarttheory of the sixteenth In Varchi delivered his lecture on theParagoni Benedetto century.57 1547, and in he it. beforethe Florentine 1550 Academy, published Notablythis textwas publishedin the same yearas Vasari'sLives,producedby the same and printedfor the same patron,Cosimo d'Medici I.58This was printer,
3 (May/June 54SeeWalter Gibson,"In Detail: PieterBruegel's The Harvesters," Portfolio Die monatsbilder Pieter D.A. (Vienna:FranzDeutiacke, 1981): 40-45; and FritzNovotny, Bruegel's 1948). 55There has been littlesubstantive discussionover what kindof meaningful relationship betweenpaintings as theywere hung in private mayhave existedin the physicalrelationship in picturecollections the sixteenth century. Seventeenth-century paintings depictingprivate artcollections thisissue,thoughit seemsthatsuchpaintings maybe of some help in addressing are not entirely accuraterecords of particular collections.For discussion ofpaintings depicting the kunstkabinet, see Filipczak,Picturing Art,58-72. 56On The Laborsof Hercules by Frans Floris, see Carl van de Velde, "'The Labours of Hercules': A Lost Seriesof Paintings by FransFloris," Burlington Magazine107 (1965): 114-15. For discussionof humanistattitudes towardspaintingin relationship to the work of Frans Floris,see Filipczak,Picturing Art,23-45. Varchi's also LeatriceMendelsohn,Paragone. Benedetto 57SeeIrma A. Richter,Paragone; "Due lezzione"and Cinquecento Art Theory (Ann Arbor:UMI ResearchPress,1982). Paragone or "comparison"refersto the debate on the relativestatusof the arts. The most famous on Painting, wherein example,fromwhich it takes its name, is foundin Leonardo's Treatise he arguesthe superior rankof paintingwith respect and poetry as well as music. to sculpture " ... to the literary refers Mendelsohn,p. xx, makes the point thatparagoni techniqueof which may selectas subjectmatter stylesor even any two of severaldisciplines, comparison individuals." 58SeeMendelsohn,Paragone, on "BenedettoVarchi: The Scholar and his Milieu," 3-33.

This content downloaded from on Fri, 5 Apr 2013 09:42:58 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

& Italy 229 Pieter Bruegel the artisticmilieu to which Giulio Clovio belonged when Bruegel was associatedwith him in Rome. Earlier,some of the negative notions about landscape that prevailed weretouchedupon. It is therefore of a paradox amonghumanists something that the example of landscape paintingwas duringthe Renaissance not but as such enteredinto the to the notion offantasia, only fundamental of the merits relative to poetryand sculpture. regarding painting Paragone of of the status in to sculpture, superior Speaking painting relationship Leonardo commentsthat: The art of paintingincludesin its domain all visible things,and does not, namely,the colors of all sculpturewith its limitations and the transparency of objects. thingsin theirvaryingintensity The sculptor without showsyou theshapesofnatural objects simply further artifice. The paintercan suggestto you various distances and intervening by a change in color producedby the atmosphere which betweentheobjectand theeye. He can depictmiststhrough rain the shapes of thingscan only be discernedwith difficulty; and valleysshowingthrough; withcloud-cappedmountains clouds who raisedthem; streams of dust whirlingabout,the combatants fishesat play betweenthe surface of the of varyingtransparency, innumerable water and its bottom. . . . He will represent effects cannot aspire.59 wheretosculpture as a landscapepainterwas One of Bruegel's major accomplishments to portraya living sense of nature, unmatchedby any of the artist's or those who came before him. More important is the contemporaries the sense of a world affected the earth's effect, by atmospheric physical conditions by seasonal conditions,and by the accompanying atmosphere, a of climatethatconstitute as Bruegel's accomplishment landscapepainter. As one readsthrough madeby Leonardoon landscape manyof the remarks it is first and foremost the painting, landscapesof PieterBruegel the Elder thatcome to mind. of paintingover poetry,and again using Speaking of the superiority the paradigmof landscape,Leonardo writes: If a painterwishes to see beautieswhich will enamorhim, he is and if he wishes to see monstrous lord of theirproduction, things
104. "e tale arte abbracciae ristringe in se tuttele 59QuotedfromRichter,Paragone, cose visibili,il che farnon pub la povertadella scultura, cioe: li colori di tuttele cose e loro e lo scultoreti mostrera le naturalisenza suo figurale cose trasparenti mininutioni;questa il pittore ti mostrera varie distantie con variamento del color de l'aria interposta fra artefizio; li obbiettie l'occhio egli le nebbie,per le quali con ficicultade le spetiedelli obbietti, penetrano egli le pioggie,che mostrano dopo se li nuvolicon montie valli egli le polvere,che mostrano in se et dopo se li combattenti d'essa motori,egli li fiumepiui o men densi; questa ti mostrera li pesci scherzanti infrala superfitie d'ell' acqua et il fondo suo ... e cose altriinnumerabili alli quali la sculturanon aggionge." effetti,

This content downloaded from on Fri, 5 Apr 2013 09:42:58 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions


The Sixteenth XXIII/2 (1992) CenturyJournal which frighten and laughable or or those which are buffoonish their lord And if he is and god. he wishesto generate compassionate or shadyand cool places in hotweather, he portrays scenes,deserts, and hot in weather. If he wantsvalleys, them, similarly places cold if he wishes afterwards to see the horizon of the mountains, and if he wishes afterwards to see the horizon of the sea he is lord of them; similarlyif he wishes to see high mountainsfrom low And, in valleys,or low valleysand seashorefromhigh mountains. which is in the that universe or effect, byessence, presence, imaginain his mind and then in his hands.60 tion, he has it first

As one reads about the artistcreatingmonstrous and buffoonish things, the Boschian paintings of Bruegel come to mind,while the artist creating what is laughable or compassionatebrings to mind Bruegel's peasants. to the artist'sdepictingseasons bringsto mind the Leonardo's reference set of paintings and the seasonaleffects Bruegel did forJonghelinck, bring to mind his landscapesas a whole. We have observedabove that in the Renaissancethe art of landscape stood as the paradigmof Netherlandish painting.Here, as a key element in theParagone; forpaintingin general.This landscapebecomesa paradigm was entirelyfitting.For one of the primarygoals of both Italian and the Renaissancewas the conquestof visible Netherlandish artthroughout in sense constrained reality.Italian paintingwas in a quite fundamental this conquestby virtueof its classical sense of "measuredreality," while Netherlandish Because it was in paintingwas freefromthis constraint.61 landscapethat"realism"reachedits peak in Renaissanceart,it maybe said that landscape exemplifies the highestattainment that art had reachedat the time.And, it was ultimately by virtueof landscapethatpaintingcould, once having declaredits bond with the othervisual arts,now declare its own special uniqueness. Within the context of this cultural issue, the ofPieter their and mostlegitimate fullest BruegeltheElderreceive landscapes definition. At a timewhen manyNetherlandish were aspiringto painters in their thestandards of sculpture and architecture by theinclusion paintings of classical sculpture, classical architecture and the denial of atmospheric effects that it effects, Bruegel turnedto landscapeand all the "painterly" afforded.
from 51-52. 'Sel pittore vol vedere Richter, bellezze,che lo innamorino, 6?Quoted Paragone, che spaventino, o che sieno egli n'& signoredi generale,et se vol vedere cose mostruose, risibilio veramente bufonesche,e compassionevoli, ei n'& signoreet dio (creatore),e se vol e cosi lochi ombrosio' foschi(freschi)ne' tempi caldi, esso li figura, generaresiti e deserti, se vol valli (al simile),se vole delle alte cime de' montiscoprire lochi caldi ne'tempeifreddi. e se delle grancampagne,et se vole dopo quelle uederel'orizzontedel mare,egli n'e signore, basse valli vol vedere gli altrimonti,o' delli alti montile basse valli e spiaggie,et in effetto, esso l'ha primanelle mente, ci6, ch'& nel' universoper essentia,presentia o'immaginatione, e poi nelle mani ...' 6See Gadol, Leon Battista 63ff. Alberti,

This content downloaded from on Fri, 5 Apr 2013 09:42:58 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

Pieter & Italy 231 Bruegel Because much of his reputation was foundedon his designsforprints, went down in the sixteenth Bruegel centuryas a "second Hieronymus Bosch."62 At the same time,we are leftwith a mostfitting epitaphon the the which Abraham Ortelius, painterby marvelouslyand geographer, sums the achievement. fittingly Commentingon Bruegel's up painter's in a to nature somewhat rhetorical extraordinary fidelity way,Orteliuscalls "the of our Bruegel age."63 Though appropriate giventhesignificance Apelles of his achievement as touchedupon above, it is notjust Bruegel's"realism" that ought to commandour attention, but also what we may referto as his "truth."Speaking of Bruegel's truthto naturein his portrayal of the human figure,Ortelius contrasts the artist'sapproachwith that of other who by tryingto make theirfiguresmore gracefuldeviate from artists, theirmodels as well as "true" beauty.Surelythe geographeris referring here to Bruegel's Romanist contemporaries. we realize Retrospectively, means withinthe contextof sixteenth-century what such a statement art. The artistis understoodhere as being more attentive to naturethan art, nature and beauty being understoodin the Renaissance as one. In the literature on Bruegel, his peasantshave been interpreted in a varietyof but at a fundamental the is in his art an level, ways; peasant primarily extensionof the landscape,thatis, a human metaphorfornature.64 While Bruegelbecame preoccupiedin his paintings of the 1560s with the peasant on a new, monumentalscale, his interestin landscape was sustainedand on occasion combinedwith the peasant.His Landscape with was in his the in the late Gallows career, (fig.16) following Magpie completed the setof monumental This landscapesthathe did forNiclaes Jonghelinck. in as if deliberate contrast to the size, jewel-like painting, large sweeping sense of composition,and broad handling of Bruegel's Months(fig. 17),

di was celebratedas a "second Bosch" by Ludovico Guicciardini, Descrittione 62Bruegel tutti i Paesi Bassi (1537), and by Domenicus Lampsonius, Pictorum Germaniae alquotcelebrium confused (1572). Bruegel is also coupled with Bosch, thoughin a rather way, inferioris effigies scultori e Architettori Pittori, (1568), by Vasari in the second edition of his Vitede'piueccelenti in which short notes on the artistsof the Netherlandsare derived from Guicciardini's Descrittione and fromcommunications sentby Lampsonius. 63Itis well established thatBruegel was acquaintedwith Ortelius,who owned at least one painting(The Death of theVirgin) by the artist.This paintingwas done in grisailleand Orteliushad it reproduced In hisAlbumamicorum in engraving forpresentation to his friends. in PembrokeCollege, Cambridge),Orteliushonoredhis dead friend bya memorial (preserved notice he composed in the formof a fictitious epitaph. On Bruegel and Ortelius,see A. E. Magazine59 (1931): 188 ff. Popham, "PieterBruegel and AbrahamOrtelius,"Burlington 640n Bruegel's peasants see Svetlana Alpers, "Bruegel's Festive Peasants," Simiolus of Bruegel's peasant picturesas (1972/73), 163-76. Alpers refutesmodern interpretations being exclusivelymoral sermons.

This content downloaded from on Fri, 5 Apr 2013 09:42:58 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions


The Sixteenth Journal Century XXIII/2 (1992)

anddated theElder,TheMagp in the Gallows Signed Bruegel Fig. 16. Pieter 1568. Oil on panel,17-3/4x 20 in. (45.9 x 50.8 cm). Hessisches Darmstadt. Landesmuseum bypermission Reprinted

anddated Herd. TheReturn Signed ofthe Brege theElder, Fig. 17. Pieter
1565. Oil on panel, 46 x 62-1/2 in. (117 x 159 cm). Kunsthistorishes Museum, Vienna. Reprinted by permission

This content downloaded from on Fri, 5 Apr 2013 09:42:58 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

Pieter & Italy 233 Bruegel reverts to the small size and vibrant richness characteristic of earlyNetherlandishart.Such a workstands in marked contrast witha landscapepainting such as Maertenvan Heemskerck'sLandscape withtheRape ofHelen (fig. in In to 18), completed 1535/36.65 opposition the classicalsubjectmatter, and the artificially of Van constructed sense ofnature antique architecture Heemskerck's work to both truth of the nature landscape,Bruegel's speaks and to thetruth ofNetherlandish In tradition. the face of Romanism, pictorial to the tradition of Jan van Eyck.66 Bruegel reverts in Bruegel's in the exists as a metaphor Nature,as defined Gallows, Magpie for"truth."Whereas in Italybeautystood fortruth, it mightbe observed here thattruth to naturestandsforbeauty.This is not truth, in the Italian of a art but artist rather the sense, imitating higher order, giving visual embodimentto a heightenedstate of sensoryperception.67 The literary to the "magpiein the gallows" in the foreground reference of thepainting is a reference to the unpleasantness of gossip, that is, secondhand information.68 Again, we find a metaphorfor Bruegel's art, which in at least did not look at naturesecond hand in art,but looked to principle natureherself. as well as as a landscapepainter, Bruegel's aims and accomplishments his relationship to both Netherlandish and Italianpictorialtraditions, may be understood in relationship to whatareunderstood as mannerist historically
65See catalogue entryin Eric M. Zafran,Fifty Old MasterPaintings Art in the Walters Gallery(Baltimore:Trusteesof the Walters Art Gallery, 1988). Van Heemskerckderived both his interest in classical art and his conceptionof landscape fromJan van Scorel with whom he studiedbetween1527-29. This painting was done while he was in Rome, probably fora Roman patron.Nearly fivefeethigh by twelve feetwide, it is signedand datedin two places. The artisthas in this landscape depicted many of the actual sites he saw while in Rome. 66Discussion of thispaintingwithinthe contextof Netherlandish can pictorialtradition be foundin Gibson, "Mirror oftheEarth,",chap. 5. in book 3 of De anima Aristotle 67Sensory experiencewas an essentialaspectoffantasia. as the image-making of the mind. It is therefore that not surprising faculty discussesfantasia in classical antiquity, fantasiaand paintingwere closely associatedwith each other. At the same time,fantasia rankedas the lowestformof humanperception. Having dividedthe brain in the first, in the second,and memory Aristotle intellect up into threeventricles, putfantasia in the third. A majordevelopment occurred in the sixteenth when Leonardorelocated century in thesecondventricle ofthebrain,thuscombining itwithhumanreasonand intellect. fantasia been equated with illusion,as opposed Paintingand sensoryexperiencehad since antiquity of knowledge, to truth. as useful in theacquisition defense Drawingupon theancient offantasia Leonardoinsisted was knowledgeoperating in a specialcapacity. that Most important, fantasia the concreteembodiment so defined,is nothingless than a painting. offantasia 68Thispaintingis mentioned Pieter 3d rev.ed., by Van Mander; see Grossmann, Bruegel, 9: "In his will he bequeathed to his wife a paintingof the Magpie in theGallows.By the magpiehe meantthe gossipswhom he would deliverto the gallows."The image of the artist as one who was devotedto "truth" is also evidentin Van Mander'saccountof how, "As long as he was in Antwerp, he kepthouse with a servant her but for girl.He would have married the factthathavinga markeddistaste forthe truth, she was in the habitof lying,a thinghe disliked." greatly

This content downloaded from on Fri, 5 Apr 2013 09:42:58 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions


Journal The Sixteenth XXIII/2 (1992) Century

and van Heemskerck, Fig. 18. Maerten Landpe wit te RapeofHen. Signed dated1535. Oil on canvas, 58 x 160 in. (1473 x 383.5 cm).Walters Art Baltimore. Gallery, bypermission Reprinted

as a "mannerism" art. If we understand trendsin late-sixteenth-century as well as a sophisticated conscious display of artifice, manipulationof whose as one then may appreciateBruegel an artist pictorialknowledge, a rebellionagainstsuch in effect on truthto natureconstituted insistence intoBruegel'sartin Ortelius' While thereis indeeda real insight artifice.69 that the artistmay have died so young because natureput an statement ofBruegel's end to himforfearthathe would outdo her,suchan estimation truthto naturemustbe qualified.The issue of "realism"in Bruegel's art is a genuine issue, but at the same time that issue must be understood the relationship with regardto the discoursethat surrounded historically in theRenaissance. traditions thetwo leadingpictorial between Paradoxically, of late and in a way that is entirelyin keeping with the self-conscious to the attends artistic vis-a-vis art convention, Bruegel sixteenth-century the truthof as a means of addressing of both pictorialtraditions artifice his own.

69n thisin-rprttion of'nnerism," Penguin Books, 1967).

seeJohnShearman, Manneris (Hamondsworth

This content downloaded from on Fri, 5 Apr 2013 09:42:58 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions