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Bruegel's Peasants examines the nature of the Northern Renaissance and the criteria used to recognise its humanistic themes. By identifying an audience with professional and personal ties to Bruegel, and analysing the critical reception of several of his most important paintings, Margaret A. Sullivan counters the view of Bruegel's peasant subjects as a parochial, anti-humanistic phenomenon. The artist's Northern audience, she argues, 'saw' the paintings within a framework that was largely conditioned by a knowledge of the ancients conveyed principally through literature and rhetorical texts. These provided models for the heroic aspects of classicism, as well as its less than idealizing underside – the ungainly and grotesque imagery of everyday life, and ancient genres such as satire in which the didactic and the amusing coexist. As 'earnest jests', Bruegel's depictions of peasants present philosophical problems humorously. They reflect, moreover, the interest and concerns of humanists in the Low Countries in the middle of the sixteenth century, successfully meeting the high expectations of an audience that applied the rigorous standards of the ancients to the art of their own time.
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- Date Published: February 1994
- format: Hardback
- isbn: 9780521441506
- length: 208 pages
- dimensions: 261 x 186 x 19 mm
- weight: 0.803kg
- contains: 63 b/w illus. 9 colour illus.
- availability: Unavailable - out of print April 1996
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