Pieter Brueghel the Elder, The Parable of the Wise & Foolish Virgins, c. 1560-63


Signed Pieter Brueghel the Elder engraving, The Parable of the Wise & Foolish Virgins, c. 1560-63

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Artist:Pieter Brueghel the Elder (1525 - 1569)

Title:The Parable of the Wise & Foolish Virgins, c. 1560-63

Reference:Bastelaer 123; Sellink 100

Medium:Original engraving on fine laid, watermarked paper

Image Size:11 5/8 in x 8 7/8 in (29.5 cm x 22.6 cm)

Sheet Size:12 5/8 in x 9 7/8 in (32 cm x 25 cm)

Framed Size:approx. 31 1/4 in x 26 in (79.5 cm x 66 cm)

Signature:Engraved, ‘BRVEGEL. INV.’ in blank cartouche in the lower right; ‘H. Cock excu.’ in the lower left

Condition:This work is in good condition

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Historical Description of this artwork


Created in c. 1560-63, this original engraving by Philip Galle is after an original drawing by Pieter Bruegel (Breda, 1525 – Brussels, 1569).  Published by Hieronymus Cock, the work has the inscriptions, ‘BRVEGEL. INV.’ in blank cartouche in the lower right; ‘H. Cock excu.’ in the lower left.  Engraved from the only state on SB watermarked paper.

The angel in the center of the composition holds a banner that reads: “Ecce sponsus eunit exit obuiam ei [Behold, the bridegroom comes; She goes out to meet him].”  On the stairway with the foolish virgins in the upper right, the doors to heaven remain closed; beneath it reads, “Non noui uos [I do not know you].”  The inscription along the lower margin is in Latin, which reads: “DATE NOBIS DE OLEO VESTRO, QVIA LAMPADES NOSTRAE EXTINGVNTVR. NEQVAQVAM, NEQVANDO NO SUFFICIAT NOBIS ET VOBIS. [Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out. Certainly not, lest there not be enough for us and you. Matthew 25].”

According to M. Sellink (2007), “The moral of the story is plain: we must live our lives in readiness of the Second Coming of Christ and the Judgment of our souls after the Resurrection…Whereas the device of dividing the print into four quarters and the distinctly Gothic architecture echo the visual idiom of the Middle Ages, in the realistic, non-biblical scenes in the lower half Bruegel emerges as a representative of his own time and of the urban mercantile class for whom the work ethic and a spirit of enterprise were increasingly important values” (159).

Catalogue Raisonné & COA:
It is fully documented and referenced in the below catalogue raisonnés and texts (copies will be enclosed as added documentation with the invoices that will accompany the final sale of the work):

1.    Bastelaer, René van. The Prints of Peter Bruegel the Elder, Catalogue Raisonné New Edition, Alan Wofsy Fine Arts: San Francisco, 1992.  Listed and illustrated as catalogue raisonné no. 123 on pgs. 157-8.
2.    Orenstein, Nadine M., ed. for the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Pieter Bruegel the Elder: Drawings and Prints, Yale University Press: New Haven, 2001.  Listed and illustrated as catalogue raisonné no. 86 on pg. 208-9.
3.    Sellink, M. Pieter Bruegel: The Complete Paintings, Drawings and Prints. Ludion: NY, 2007. Listed and illustrated as catalogue raisonné no. 100 on pg. 159.

About The Framing:
Set in a Spanish-style gold and black frame, the ribbon detailing and carved, organic elements of the moulding complements the four little vignettes within the work.  Decorative detail of the framing evoke a classical aura to the work.  Completed with white, linen-wrapped mats with a matching gold inner fillet, The Parable of the Wise & Foolish Virgins is set behind an archival Plexiglas® cover and also features a custom-made brass plate with the artist’s name and dates mounted to the mat.

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The Certificate of Authenticity accompanies this work, guaranteeing its authenticity for as long as you own it.

All catalogue raisonné and historical documentation is included with your purchase.

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Why Brueghel the Elder?

Popular in his own day, works by this remarkable engraver and painter are full of zest and fine detail with few comparable parallels in European art.

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Artistic Styles of Brueghel the Elder

Old Master, Religious

Pieter Brueghel the Elder Complete Biography

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Pieter Brueghel the Elder Engravings and Paintings
Pieter Brueghel the Elder (1525-1569)

Pieter Brueghel the Elder Biography

Pieter Brueghel (1525-69), usually known as Pieter Brueghel the Elder to distinguish him from his elder son, was the first in a family of Flemish painters. You’ll often find his name spelled as Bruegel (Pieter spelled it like that from 1559 onwards) or Breugel or Breughel.

He was born in Breda in the Duchy of Brabant, which is now part of The Netherlands but back then part of the Flanders.

Note: Flanders or Vlaanderen and the Netherlands (aka known as Holland) or Nederland share the same language. It’s called Flemish, or “Vlaams” in Belgium and Dutch, or “Nederlands” in The Netherlands. And the name Holland, although it’s often taken to mean the whole of the Netherlands, is really part of that country only, the area of the provinces called Zuid Holland and Noord Holland (South and North Holland).

Brueghel was accepted as a master in the Antwerp painters’ guild in 1551, after being an apprentice of Coecke van Aelst, a leading Antwerp artist, sculptor, architect, and designer of tapestry and stained glass. Brueghel traveled to Italy in 1551 or 1552, completing a number of paintings, mostly landscapes, there. Returning home in 1553, he settled in Antwerp but ten years later moved permanently to Brussels. He married van Aelst’s daughter, Mayken, in 1563. His paintings, including his landscapes and scenes of peasant life, stress the absurd and vulgar, yet are full of zest and fine detail. They also expose human weaknesses and follies. He was sometimes called the Peasant Brueghel. But it was in nature that he found his greatest inspiration. His mountain landscapes have few parallels in European art. Popular in his own day, Bruegel prints have remained consistently popular. Pieter Brueghel the Elder died in Brussels on Sept. 9, 1569.

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