Table of contents:
- A little about the plot of the picture
- The Tower of Babel as a symbol of the era in which Bruegel lived
- The image of the Tower of Babel in Bruegel's painting
- More about the picture
- Nimrod is the main character
- What did Bruegel encrypt in his "Tower of Babel"
- Morality laid down by genius
- P.S. The modern Burj Khalifa
Pieter Bruegel the Elder - the genius of his era, to whose work we want to return again and again as a source of visual reflection of biblical, historical and political events. His unique paintings are full of secrets and mysteries, symbolism and allegories. They were highly valued by the artist's contemporaries, and today his work is an invaluable asset. Today in our publication is another masterpiece, striking in its grandiose scope, as well as an interesting storyline, artistic idea, compositional solution and an extraordinary manner of execution. This is legendary "Tower of Babel"created by the master in 1563.
Bruegel in his works has always expressed criticism of those in power and the church. Being an indifferent eyewitness to the rapid economic prosperity of her country and the most intense struggle that she waged against the Spanish crown and church oppression, the artist categorically refused to paint portraits and nude, despite the tempting expensive orders. Its main characters have always been the faceless ordinary people of the Dutch provinces, which at that time was a challenge to the existing foundations both in the artistic environment and in society.
You can read more about the genius artist and his passions in the publication: Pieter Bruegel Muzhitsky: Why a famous artist refused orders and dressed like a poor man.
A little about the plot of the pictureAccording to the biblical tradition, the descendants of Noah, who survived the flood, were represented by one people speaking the same language. From the east, they came to the land of Shinar, in the valleys of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, and decided to build a city called Babylon, the symbol of which was to be a tower erected to heaven. The plan of the people was to symbolize the unity of mankind: "let us make a sign for ourselves, so as not to be scattered over the face of the whole earth."
God, seeing the city under construction and the tower being erected into the heavens, judged: Since he could not tolerate such insolence from people, he decided to put an end to their deed. Soon the construction of the city and the tower slowed down noticeably, and later stopped altogether. The main reason lay in the fact that the Almighty mixed their languages so that the builders would stop understanding each other. Misunderstanding forced people to settle all over the world. Thus, the story of the Tower of Babel explains the emergence of multilingualism after the Flood.
Many will immediately ask the question: did the Tower of Babel really exist, or is it biblical fiction? Of course, the Tower of Babel really existed. Thanks to the excavations, its location and approximate device were established. The tower did not have a specific structure, but was a real architectural chaos of stairs, windows and rooms.
The Tower of Babel as a symbol of the era in which Bruegel lived
Until the 16th century, the theme of the Tower of Babel almost did not attract the attention of Western European artists. However, later the situation changed radically. This topic has affected many Dutch masters, in particular Pieter Bruegel the Elder. One of the reasons was the economic prosperity of Holland and the growth of cities due to the resettlement of foreigners and rural residents in them.
So, for example, Antwerp, which depicted Bruegel on his canvas, was flooded with foreigners. The seaside towns grew rapidly, they were overflowing with visiting merchants and preachers of different confessions. Only in the first half of the 16th century, the city's population doubled, and in fact the city was the very multilingual Tower of Babel. In addition, the urban population was no longer united by one church: Catholics, Protestants, Lutherans and Baptists - all lived in intermixture. Hustle and bustle, insecurity and anxiety gripped the unfortunate inhabitants of the Netherlands. And how could one fail to recall the biblical story about the legendary Tower of Babel, which at that time became one of the most popular images in art.
The image of the Tower of Babel in Bruegel's painting
It is for this reason that the legend of the biblical tower attracted the attention of the Dutch artist Pieter Bruegel, who dedicated three of his works to it. Two of them have survived: the "large" "Tower of Babel" stored in Vienna, and the "small" one in Rotterdam. There was also a miniature on ivory, but it has not survived to our time.
These paintings by Bruegel are perhaps the most striking visual embodiment of that distant era in terms of politics, religion, and life.
More about the picture
It is curious that despite the prevalence of the plot, none of the artists before Pieter Bruegel managed to convey the grandiose dimensions of the building so reliably. His "Tower of Babel" impresses not only with its scope, but also with its fundamental knowledge of engineering, scrupulous study of the smallest details and elements. In this work, Bruegel's unique method was manifested in the best way, combining the difficultly compatible - panoramic painting and miniature.
With a close analytical examination of Bruegel's canvases, one can see how the artist arranged the construction sites and the work taking place on them compositionally: in the foreground - construction is carried out manually, higher - long poles are used to move stone slabs, even higher - lifting devices and more powerful cranes. According to one of the versions of historians: in this way, Bruegel showed the development of construction technology over the eras.
The tower is being erected by the builders very unevenly. Its lower floors are already inhabited - in the windows and doorways you can see its inhabitants. Looking up, we see that the most active construction is going on in the middle tiers, which, according to the logic of things, should have already been completed. Therefore, the viewer gets the impression that people, desperate to build a tower high to the skies, decided to better equip that part of it that is closer to the earth, to reality. Thus, the artist wanted to emphasize that the tower is destined to be built forever.
According to Bruegel's idea, this inconsistency in actions, giving the tower a surreal look, suggests that the punishment of the Lord has already overtaken the masters: the separation of languages has come to pass, and they began to build each according to their own idea. As a result, the disunity will lead to the fact that the construction is unlikely to be brought to completion and the seemingly solid tower is about to collapse and bury the proud people under its rubble.
Nimrod is the main character
In the foreground, in the lower left corner of the picture, we see a traditionally Bruegelian genre scene: the biblical king Nimrod with his retinue, on whose order the tower was erected, visiting a construction site. The arrogant Vladyka came to inspect the progress of construction and to catch up with fear of the workaholic. Judging by the way the stonemasons fell to their knees in front of him, he succeeded. By the way, the biblical character is very much like a nobleman from the 16th century, and it is no coincidence. The painter by all means alludes to Charles V, who was distinguished by his special despotism during Bruegel's time.
What did Bruegel encrypt in his "Tower of Babel"
Creating this canvas, Bruegel once again acted as a prophet. In the image of the Tower of Babel, the artist reflected his idea of the fate of the royal house of the Habsburgs. Looking into history, remember that under Charles V the Habsburg empire included the lands of Austria, Bohemia (Czech Republic), Hungary, Germany, Italy, Spain and the Netherlands.
No European monarch, before or after, had so many titles. Charles alone had more than a dozen royal crowns - he was simultaneously the king of Leon, Castile, Valencia, Aragon, Galicia, Seville, Mallorca, Granada, Navarra, Sicily, Naples, Hungary, Croatia, etc., as well as the king of Germany, Italy and Burgundy and the titular king of Jerusalem.
However, in 1556 Charles abdicated the crown in favor of his son Philip, relinquishing all titles and the Spanish crown. And he himself retired to the monastery. And this huge state, like the Tower of Babel, began to disintegrate under its own weight.
Morality laid down by genius
So, from time immemorial, overcoming mutual misunderstanding and enmity, people of the Earth erect a tower of human civilization. And they will not stop building while this world stands, "and nothing will be impossible for them."
Summing up the above, the conclusion suggests itself: the Tower is the very history of mankind. It is like a tree, the age of which is determined by the annual rings, each of its floors is the result of a certain era in the development of society. And a curious moment: while we are building new floors, we have to constantly repair, alter or update the old ones, which are undermined and destroyed by inexorable time.
Pieter Bruegel's every work is a treasure trove of metaphors, allegories, riddles and proverbs. So in the painting "Flemish Proverbs" Bruegel managed to encrypt more than a hundred proverbs. [/ Url]
P. S. The modern Burj Khalifa
More than 5000 years have passed since the times described in the biblical history. Not a trace remains of the historic city of Babylon (the territory of modern Iran). However, a daring attempt to "make a name for himself" was already undertaken by our contemporaries in the city of Dubai. The skyscraper, built in January 2010 with the help of European architects, became the tallest building in the world. Its height is amazing - 828 meters, containing 163 floors and a giant spire crowning the tower.