Pieter Brueghel II (The Younger)
Peasant Wedding Dance
Netherlands (c. 1607)
Oil on Panel,38.1 x 57.2 cm.
Scenes of peasant celebrations that Pieter Bruegel the Elder made popular in the 1560s were still so in the 1600s, and his son Pieter II devoted himself to filling that demand. This lively scene by the son is derived from a famous painting of 1566 by the father (now in Detroit). In 1607, when this painting was dated, the original was in Emperor Rudolf’s collection in Prague, so the son relied on an engraving. Peasant life was hard, and weddings offered rare opportunities for diversion. The bride sits under a crude crown honoring her as “queen for a day” while neighbors offer gifts of coins. The angular, suggestive movements of the dancers whirling to bagpipe music convey a raucous mood that probably amused urban patrons.