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“The Peasant Wedding” by Pieter Bruegel the Elder

"The Peasant Wedding" by Pieter Bruegel the Elder

“The Peasant Wedding” by Pieter Bruegel the Elder

“The Peasant Wedding” by Pieter Bruegel the Elder depicts the bride in front of the green textile wall-hanging, with a paper-crown hung above her head. She is also wearing a crown on her head, but the Bridegroom is not identified, and his representation is uncertain.

There has been much conjecture as to the identity of the groom in this painting. He may be the man in the center of the painting, wearing a dark coat and seen in profile. Or is he against the far wall, to the right of the bride, eating with a spoon?

It has also been suggested that according to contemporary customs, the groom is not be seated at the table but serving the food or drink instead. According to another theory, the groom may not attend the wedding feast per Flemish custom.

The feast is in a barn with two sheaves of grain with a rake, symbolize the harvest and the peasant’s agricultural life.

The Dutch and Flemish Renaissance painter and printmaker Pieter Bruegel the Elder created many paintings depicting peasant life. He enjoyed painting peasants and different aspects of their lives in so many paintings that he has been called Peasant-Bruegel. 

The scene depicts an accurate portrayal of the 16th-century celebration of a peasant wedding with the inclusion of many fascinating details:

  • The plates are carried on a door off its hinges.
  • The wedding meal consists was bread, porridge, and soup.
  • Two pipers playing the pijpzak.
  • An unbreeched boy in the foreground licking a plate.
  • The wealthy man at the far right feeding a dog by putting bread on the bench.
  • This richly-dressed nobleman is in earnest conversation with a Franciscan monk.
  • The bride is composed and presides over the table beneath a canopy.

Pieter Bruegel the Elder was an intellectual, and many of his paintings have a symbolic meaning and a moral aspect. Pieter Bruegel the Elder may also be depicting an old Flemish proverb:

‘”It is a poor man who is not able to be at his own wedding.”

Pieter Bruegel the Elder

Pieter Bruegel the Elder (1525 – 1569) was the most significant Dutch and Flemish Renaissance painting artist. He is a painter known for his landscapes and peasant scenes.

He significantly influenced the Dutch Golden Age painting with his innovative choices of the subject matter. He was one of the first generation of artists to grow up when religious subjects had ceased to be the dominant subject matter of painting.

All his most famous paintings come from the decade before his early death when he was in his early forties and at the height of his artistic powers.

He dropped the ‘h’ from his name and signed his paintings as Bruegel, and he is sometimes referred to as “Peasant Bruegel” to distinguish him from the many later painters in his family, including his son Pieter Brueghel the Younger (1564-1638).

The Peasant Wedding

  • Title:                      The Peasant Wedding
  • Deutsch:                Die Bauernhochzeit
  • Español:                 Boda campesina
  • Français:                Le Repas de noce
  • Artist:                    Pieter Bruegel, the Elder
  • Year:                      1567
  • Medium:                Oil on panel
  • Dimensions:          114 cm × 164 cm (45 in × 65 in)
  • Museum:               Kunsthistorisches Museum

Pieter Brueghel


“The Peasant Wedding” by Pieter Bruegel the Elder

“The Peasant Wedding” by Pieter Bruegel the Elder

A Virtual Tour of the Kunsthistorisches Museum

“The Peasant Wedding” by Pieter Bruegel the Elder

A Tour of European Museums


“It is not length of life, but depth of life.” 
– Ralph Waldo Emerson


Photo Credit: Pieter Brueghel the Elder [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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