Note: This exhibition is postponed to 2021. Brueghel and his contemporaries: art as a covert resistance? can be seen from March 2 , 2021 to June 6, 2021.

In this exhibition we show what appears to be a purely religious subject, has been approached in such a way that it can be seen as a hidden critical commentary on the power structures and religious reality of the Flanders as Pieter Brueghel II knew it. In the exhibition the work of Pieter Brueghel the Younger will be shown with interpretations of the carrying of the cross by predecessors, contemporaries and followers.

Art as a covert resistance?

For artists, the Carrying of the Cross offered many striking details, a rewarding subject for painting or carving in wood. Initially, in the late Middle Ages, we see the image mainly as part of the Passion, the series of events that led to Christ's "death on the cross, with the Crucifixion as the" culmination ".

Based on a work by Jan van Eyck, which is now only known from copies, stand-alone representations, prints and paintings of the Carrying of the Cross from the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries are increasingly common. And where one artist zooms in on Christ's suffering, and thereby creates a so-called "Andachtsbild", others show panoramic views, with myriads of figures. At first sight, nothing more than a Christian image, some painters incorporated direct or indirect social criticism into their Carrying the Cross.

Like Father, Like Son? Brueghel the Elder died in 1569, three years after the Iconoclasm. Under the reign of Fernando Àlvarez de Toledo, the Duke of Alva, and his Blood Council that followed, religious and political dissidents were relentlessly persecuted. While still on his deathbed, Pieter the Elder is said to have told his wife to burn his drawings, because the caustic satire could bring the family into trouble.

Decades later, his son Peter II gave the soldiers who accompany Christ to Golgotha ​​the banner of the Habsburgs. Did he do this to make the religious image more tangible for his contemporaries? Or did he paint in the mind of his father, and is the weapon a veiled reproach to the authority that puts reformers to death? We will never know for sure, the painter must have deliberately left his intentions open to multiple explanations.

Curator: Lars Hendrikman
Guest curator: Dorien Tamis

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