Online Collections at UoB - Objects
ID number: BIRBI-44.11
Institution: The Barber Institute of Fine Arts
Artist / Maker: Brueghel, Pieter the younger (1564/5-1637/8)
Title / Object name: Two Peasants Binding Firewood
Object type: Painting
Place made: Antwerp
Culture: Early Netherlandish
Date made: c.1604-16
Materials: Oil on wood
Measurements: 36.2 x 27.3 cm
Provenance: Paris art market about 1933; purchased by F. A. Drey, Munich; purchased by Prince Paul of Yugoslavia about 1934; later re-purchased by Drey from the Prince; purchased by the Barber Institute in1944 for £6,800.
Peasants binding a bundle of branches for firewood were often painted as one of winter’s labours. The precise subject here is unknown, although it is clearly critical in tone. The peasants, with their accomplice in the distance, look around suspiciously - they are possibly stealing the wood. Other vices are hinted at. The stout man to the left symbolises gluttony and his gaunt accomplice to the right, with his codpiece and phallic pipe, represents lechery.
Pieter Breughel the younger often painted copies and pastiches of his father’s work, though no prototype is known here.
Notes: Exhibited: 'De Van Eyck a Bruegal', Paris, Orangerie, 1935 (no.17); 'Brueghel: Defining a Dynasty', The Holburne Museum, Bath, UK, 11 February 2017 - 4 June 2017