Pieter Bruegel the Elder and Religion offers new insight into the religious dimension of Bruegel’s art. With a number of highly original and thorough case studies, the volume illuminates Bruegel’s inventive and multifaceted engagement with the contemporary religious concepts and practices of his day and age.

Religion remains a vital question in the life and career of Bruegel, because it was so long believed to be more or less absent from his work. As a pioneer of the new genres of landscape and peasant scenes, Bruegel was heralded as a ground-breaking “secular” painter. This volume highlights the most recent scholarship on the artist, offering a much more nuanced portrait of Bruegel’s engagement with the dynamic religious landscape of the mid-sixteenth century.

Contributors are: Jessica Buskirk, Ralph Dekoninck, Bertram Kaschek, Walter S. Melion, Jürgen Müller, Anna Pawlak, Gerd Schwerhoff, Larry Silver, and Michel Weemans.
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Biographical Note

Bertram Kaschek is a researcher at the Dresden Kupferstich-Kabinett. He has published articles on early modern Netherlandish and German art and German Photography and is the author of Weltzeit und Endzeit: Die “Monatsbilder” Pieter Bruegels d. Ä. (Wilhelm Fink, 2012).

Jürgen Müller holds the Chair for Early Modern Art History at the Technische Universität Dresden. He has published extensively on northern European art of the early modern period and film history and is the author of a forthcoming comprehensive monograph on Pieter Bruegel the Elder (Taschen, 2018).

Jessica Buskirk is a freelance researcher, focusing on Netherlandish and German art of the early modern period. She has published articles in Renaissance Quarterly and Journal of Historians of Netherlandish Art and is the co-editor of The Aura of the Word (Routledge, 2016).

Table of contents

List of Illustrations
Notes on the Contributors

1 Pieter Bruegel the Elder and Religion: A Historiographical Introduction
Bertram Kaschek
2 Of Birdnesters and Godsearchers: A New Interpretation of Pieter Bruegel the Elder’s The Beekeepers
Jürgen Müller
3 Peter Bruegel and the Problem of Vision
Larry Silver
4 Virtue or Tyranny? Pieter Bruegel, Justitia, and the Myth of the Inquisition
Gerd Schwerhoff
5 The First Temptation of Christ: An Evolving Iconographic Trope in Sixteenth-Century Antwerp
Jessica Buskirk
6 The Imaginarium of Death: Pieter Bruegel’s The Triumph of Death
Anna Pawlak
7 Evidentiae Resurrectionis: On the Mystery Discerned but not Seen in Pieter Bruegel’s Resurrection of ca. 1562–1563
Walter S. Melion
8 Falling Idols, Rising Icons: Bruegel’s Flight into Egypt and the Embeddedness of Sacred Images in Nature
Ralph Dekoninck
9 Pieter Bruegel’s Hunters in the Snow and Insidiosus Auceps as Trap Images
Michel Weemans


All interested in the art of Pieter Bruegel the Elder, and anyone concerned with northern European art and the history of religion during the early modern period.

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