The Peasant Wedding

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Pieter Bruegel. The Peasant Wedding, 1567
BY HARPER TRUOG

Parties and family gatherings have hardly changed since the 1500s. People crowd onto tables and hands pass platters of food up and down the rows. The house starts out clean, but there is no hope of keeping it that way, and meager decorations hang on the walls. Loud chatter fills the room and even the seated bodies move with expressive gestures. Stories are retold and passed down the table with laughter following close behind. Children clean their plates and lick their sticky hands while an adult refills his glass even if he should not. The food keeps coming out of the kitchen like a parade. Someone brings out the dessert and everyone is eager for a bite.
Bruegel's figures are proportional and busy with movement. No person stands stiffly against a wall and the movement gives the sense of a lively celebration. He uses earthy tones like browns and greens with splashes of red to add contrast. The red draws the eye to the musician, the people carrying the tray of bowls, and the child's hat in the bottom left corner.


Bruegel showed a commoner's wedding in 1567, but many people today do things during parties that were done back then. When celebrating, humans gather with loved ones, eat an abundance of food, and listen to music or stories. Bruegel displays peasants having a good time and filling the house. The tables are full, but there is a crowd lined up out the door, which shows a plethora of good company. These peasants are not rich, but they have a fulfilling celebration with what they have.

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