Monday, February 20, 2012

Twelve Proverbs

I recently purchased my fourth Breugel and am ready to hobnob amongst my fellow blue bloods in the Hamptons this summer. Well not really, but I did just acquire my fourth print by Renaissance artist Pieter Bruegel. This piece was painted on 12 separate plates ca. 1558 to 1560 and is entitled Twelve Proverbs. I fell in love with the original that I viewed in the Austrian National Museum (Kunsthistorisches) many years ago. For fun, I thought I would unpack the meaning of each of the 12 proverbs.

Top Row (L to R):
1. A seller of waffles who drinks and plays - be about your business.
2. To hang one's cloak into the wind - to adapt one's viewpoint to the current opinion.
3. To carry fire in one hand and water in the other - to be two-faced.
4. To sit between two chairs - unable to choose between two options and ending up with nothing.

Middle Row (L to R):
1. To fill the well after the calf has drowned - take action after a disaster.
2. To cast roses before swine - to waste effort on the unworthy.
3. To bell the cat - to carry out a dangerous or impractical plan.
4. To be unable to see the sun shine on the water - to be jealous of another's success.

Bottom Row (L to R):
1. To bang one's head against a wall - try to achieve the impossible.
2. To fish behind the net - to miss an opportunity.
3. To wear a blue cloak - to be deceived.
4. To pee against the moon - to waste one's time on a futile endeavor.

So, any other art lovers out there?