The Fight Between Carnival and Lent

7:00 AM


Pieter Bruegel, The Fight Between Carnival and Lent, 1559

Bruegel's genius is subtle. Then again, it's really not. The chaos in this picture is evident. Like so many of Bruegel's other paintings, the viewer becomes distracted by the chaos, thus the subject is lost to them (i.e. The Fall of Icarus where a man peacefully plows in the foreground and Icarus, unnoticed, drowns in the bottom right corner). In this particular painting, the focus is just as unclear, despite Bruegel giving it to us in the title. The spectrum is broader; the subject busy and chaotic.

But Bruegel doesn't take sides. He sits behind his paint brush and his wit, observing the utter chaos in front of him. He depicts the convergence of a religious contrast. On the right side, there is a church, religion and order, representing Lent, a time of solemnity and purity. Hunched over nuns walk about the street looking sickly and forlorn. On the left, an inn where the drunk and foolish stumble out.

It kind of boggles my mind to think that Bruegel never got in trouble for this painting. He depicts two different religious days as a mockery, ridiculous through every aspect. Despite all this, he was considered a pious man, but this only impresses me. Throughout all of history, Bruegel is one of the brains I would look to pick the most (right behind Oscar Wilde). To me, he's that guy at the back of the party that's just there, watching and observing the comedy in every day life

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