PROPERTY FROM THE ESTATE OF THOMAS J. PERKINS
The subject of the Blind Leading the Blind is drawn from Matthew, XV: 13-14, which tells how Christ, after being informed that he had incensed the Pharisees by criticizing their spiritual leadership, replied: "Let them alone: they are blind guides. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch." The earliest known treatment of the subject in the Low Countries, but probably anywhere in the Western tradition, was by Hieronymous Bosch in a now-lost painting, engraved by Pieter van der Heyden, and published by Hieronymous Cock (see P. Lafond, Hieronymous Bosch. Son art, son influence, et ses disciples, Brussels and Paris, 1914, illustrated opposite p. 94). Cornelis Massys also engraved the subject in a work of circa 1540, elaborating on Bosch’s simpler two-figure composition to include four. Bruegel’s interpretation of the story, however, is by far the most famous, and from shortly after its 1568 production its proliferation into the cannon of Netherlandish painting was widespread.
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