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The Fair of Saint George's Day

After Pieter Bruegel the Elderc. 1559

The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
Houston, United States

This bustling scene by renowned Renaissance artist Pieter Bruegel the Elder shows a typical Netherlandish kermis. Originally a feast day for a patron saint, the kermis became a combination carnival, festival, fair, and religious observance, and it was one of Bruegel's favorite subjects.

Bruegel was the most prominent member of a Netherlandish family of artists active in the 16th and 17th centuries. An inventive draftsman and painter, his impact was widespread and long lasting as a result of the prints that reproduced his paintings. He was famous for his innovative treatment of landscapes and depictions of the lives of commoners, earning him the nickname "Peasant Bruegel."

This kermis—according to the banner at the right of the image—celebrates the feast day of Saint George. Inscribed on the ribbon over the saint, who is recognizable by his attributes of the bow and arrow, is the phrase Laet die boeren haer keermis houven, or "Let the peasants hold their kermis." This slogan was a protest against an edict of Holy Roman Emperor Charles V limiting the kermis to a single day because of the notorious drunken excesses associated with the fête.

Details

  • Title: The Fair of Saint George's Day
  • Creator: After Pieter Bruegel the Elder
  • Date Created: c. 1559
  • Physical Dimensions: w52.3 x h33.7 cm (image)
  • Type: Print
  • External Link: MFAH
  • Medium: Etching and engraving
  • Engraver: Hieronymous Cock, Jan van Duetecum, or Lucas van Duetecum
  • Credit Line: The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, museum purchase funded by The Brown Foundation, Inc.

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