de jonckheere old masters

Pieter Brueghel the Younger

The Wedding Feast

Panel: 27,3 x 43,3 cm
Signed “P.BREVGHEL” at the bottom on the right


Pieter Brueghel the Younger portrayed the theme of village weddings throughout his career. He was inspired by his own experiences in Brabant villages, but also by the works of his father, Pieter the Elder, and his illustrious contemporary, Maerten van Cleve. Indeed, the charming panel we are presenting here draws its inspiration from a series of five paintings by van Cleve, relating the five major stages of a traditional wedding in the Flemish countryside at the beginning of the 17th century.

This painting skilfully portrays the wedding feast of an amiable peasant family. One of the charms of the painting is linked to the harmonious scansion of the joyful characters sitting around the table. The artist seems to want to prove to us that despite the political and religious tensions that existed in Spanish Flanders at this time, feasting and conviviality remained at the heart of country folk's daily lives.

The exceptional colours and the magnificent red drape hanging behind the guests are what make our version – the only one known to include the artist’s signature – stand out. Here, the artist appropriates Maerten van Cleve’s décor, glorifying it with a particularly attractive range of colours. We can see all the personality and talent of Pieter Brueghel the Younger through his choice of colours. The painter makes the colours sing, especially the reds but also the blues and the greens, by applying them onto the very fine greys, beiges and bistres. Painted with a very light, vibrant touch and in lively tones, this prodigious work with its fantastic colours exudes an unequalled power and harmony, worthy of this great master of the Flemish 17th century.

The fabulous skill which Brueghel reveals in every brushstroke also emphasises the high quality of our version, the fruit of rigorous and passionate work.

Provenance :
Anonymous sale by an European family;
Christie’s, London 9 December 1994, lot 290;
Private collection.

Littérature :
K. Ertz,Pieter Brueghel der Jüngere - Die gemälde mit kritischem oeuvrekatalog, Luca Verlag, Lingen 1988/2000, Vol II, p. 713, No. E873 and p. 660-1, fig. 534;
K. Ertz, in the catalogue of the exhibition, Pieter Brueghel der Jüngere - Jan Brueghel der Ältere. Flämische Malerei um 1600 Tradition und Fortschritt, Lingen, 1997, p. 401, fig. 2;
K. Ertz, in the catalogue of the exhibition, Pieter Brueghel le Jeune - Jan Brueghel l'Ancien. Une famille des peintres flamands vers 1600, Lingen, 1998, p. 388, no. 141b.