Pieter Bruegel the Elder’s Netherlandish Proverbs and Sixteenth Century Dutch Semiotics

Date of Award


Document Type

Masterʼs Research Paper

Degree Name



Art & Art History

First Advisor

Scott B. Montgomery


Bruegel, Pieter, approximately 1525-1569. Netherlandish proverbs, Painting, Dutch -- Netherlands, Semiotics and art -- Netherlands


"In 1559, Pieter Bruegel the Elder‘s depiction of {7f2015}Netherlandish Proverbs‖ illustrated his profound understanding of the Dutch love for proverbs, their contemporary values, and appreciation for moral lessons in art forms. Depicting gestures and poses that represented proverbial phrases enabled Bruegel‘s leap from didactic labels employed by other artists to his inscription-free success of {7f2015}Netherlandish Proverbs.‖ My examination reveals that Bruegel‘s employment of gestural imagery, indicating rhetorical phrases or proverbs, was reinforced by a history of scholarly curatorship for written proverb collections, humanist interest in proverbs, and use of Dutch vernacular to bolster protonational pride"


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