Pieter Brueghel's Raucous Wedding Dance 

NEW YORK | 22 MAY 2024

The Wedding Dance typifies Pieter Brueghel the Younger’s fascination with depicting rural life in the Low Countries. An iconic representation of rustic merry-making that combines landscape and genre, the scene was among the artist’s most successful compositions, one often repeated by Brueghel and his workshop. A celebration of the simple pleasure derived from dancing among friends, the painting epitomizes the type of scene popularized by the Brueghel dynasty.

An uninhibited spirit of warmth and joviality suffuses the composition, which captures all manner of carousing. The pathos-imbued depiction of bawdiness focuses on four couples who dance in the foreground accompanied by two bagpipers at right. Behind the eight dancers, other wedding guests embrace, imbibe, and cavort, their exuberance almost overshadowing the happy couple. The bride, distinguished by her flowing locks and the simple crown hanging above her (denoting her as “queen for the day”), sits before a lilac cloth of honor. Two bonneted women—perhaps her mother and mother-in-law—flank her as one of the attendees places a silver coin on a platter. The bridegroom’s identity remains difficult to ascertain.

The Wedding Dance will be sold in Master Paintings on 22 May 2024 in New York.

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