The Wedding Dance is a splendid example of Bruegel's fascination with the peasant life of his native land. Public and private holidays and festivals provided him with typical situations and characters for his paintings. Here the wedding guests are very simply modeled, the positions of their arms and legs somewhat exaggerated to make the dancers look more awkward and more rustic. Although a modern audience might see this panel primarily as a genre painting, Bruegel's contemporaries would have noted its moralizing overtones: frenzied dance and lustful behavior could lead to sin and damnation.
Artist Pieter Bruegel the Elder
Netherlandish, 1525-1569
Title
  • The Wedding Dance
Date ca. 1566
Medium oil on wood panel
Dimensions Unframed: 47 × 62 inches (119.4 × 157.5 cm)
Framed: 57 1/4 × 72 × 3 1/2 inches (145.4 × 182.9 × 8.9 cm)
Credit Line City of Detroit Purchase
Accession Number 30.374
Department European Painting
On View European: Medieval and Renaissance W230, Level 2 (see map)
Signed Signed and dated, lower right: • M • D L X V I | B R V E G E L
Marks Printed paper label, upper left, verso: No. 71 | Picture
Painted, upper right, verso: 30.374
Handwritten paper label, middle right, verso: 17385
England, Private Collection;
London, Arthur J. Sulley (dealer);
purchased by the Detroit Institute of Arts (Detroit, Michigan, USA), 1930-present
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