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Bruegel’s Mirror – Exhibition

A wonderful new exhibition at the Royal Cornwall Museum from September 20 to November 8 2014 explores Bruegel the Elder via art created by Laurence Smith.

From the introduction:

Pieter Bruegel the Elder (c.1525-1569) was a Flemish artist who illustrated

people’s everyday lives and the worlds they inhabited. His work is often seen

as being one of the earliest forms of social satire in art history.

In the drawing Nobody and Somebody (1558) the character of Nobody

is shown staring at himself in a mirror, below Bruegel has written the line

“Nobody looks at himself”. Bruegel loved to turn proverbs into pictures and in

doing so held his own mirror up to what he saw as the foolishness of society.

Bruegel was predominantly known for his large, colourful oil paintings of, what

were known as, ‘peasant scenes’. These were commissioned by wealthy

patrons and rarely seen in public. However, many of his drawings were made

into engravings allowing them to be reproduced and seen by a far wider

audience.

Laurence Smith has made a study of Bruegel’s little known graphic works and

turned some of these drawings and engravings into oil paintings whilst trying

to mirror the colour and energy of Bruegel’s paintings. Enlarged and vividly

coloured Bruegel’s highly detailed graphic images can now be seen like never

before.

Pieter Bruegel the Elder wanted to hold up a theatrical mirror in order for us to

see our own selves, with all our virtues and vices, reflected back at us.

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