Thursday, March 13, 2014


Pieter Bruegel the Elder, Tower of Babel, 1563, oil on panel, 114 x 155 cm
Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna

You are about to enter an amazing site. 
Please click on the link below and start your journey
Everything seems calm at first. Look for a stone with the artist’s signature: BRUEGEL FE, MCCCCCCIII (1563). 
Hint: Three nails and a round hammer rest on that stone, bottom edge.
Now step into the picture.  
Make your way past the grumpy king who is scolding the workers.  Look for the path leading down to the landing on the right, where horses are waiting to carry red bricks. OOPS!  On the edge a guy is about to pee into the water. The harbor is bustling and ships are bringing the materials that cranes and pulleys are lifting.
You may want to follow the horse carts up the ramp and around the first three levels.  It seems the workers have moved in and are living there with their families. It would probably take them too long to go down to the bottom every day.  Fires are being built and kids are playing. Do you see a little face gazing through a window?  

Explore the whole site close-up and you will discover amazing things.
You are now so high up that the birds and clouds are below you. Does the town look empty? Can you spot some people walking on a road by the river behind the city walls on the left? There you may also find a windmill and a church.  Can you find the sailboats near the island on the right?
Behind the king on the left, some workers are resting near a stream that leads to a pool of water. Are they sick of building?  

Find a guy doing his business!! Is he pointing his rear toward the king on purpose? Is that a hidden message?

Do you think that the tower will hold up?
All the people spoke the same language. The king ordered them to build their city with a tower reaching for the heavens in the sky. Once they began to brag about their greatness, they were no longer able to understand each other. They babbled in many languages and scattered all over the earth.  They stopped building the Tower of Babel.

Before the artist painted the Tower he saw the Colosseum in Rome.  Did you see the liquid grey under-painting everywhere? The paint seems almost transparent.  He paints quickly and with thin glazes.  Below look at another Tower Bruegel painted. Compare the two!

If Bruegel lived today, would he build with LEGOs and play Minecraft?  Would you like to draw the Tower of Babel?
Pieter Bruegel the Elder, Tower of Babel, ca.1565, oil on panel, 60 x 74.5 cm 
Boijmans van Beuningen Museum, Rotterdam

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