NEW YORK, 2 NOVEMBER 2010 The Museo Nacional del Prado in
Madrid announced in September the discovery of 'The Wine of Saint Martins
Day,' a previously unknown work by Pieter Bruegel the Elder (ca. 1527 -
Dear Culturekiosque Staff:
You run a very fine site, but as a student of St. Martin in art (see
particularly my article "Martin y muchos pobres: Grotesque Versions of the
Charity of St. Martin in the Bosch and Bruegel Schools," Essays in
Medieval Studies 14 (1998)), I have a few quibbles with your "Prado Musuem Reveals
Unknown Painting by Pieter Bruegel" article of 10 September. Your
writer seems to confuse 'grape-picking,' which takes place in
September, with first sampling of the new-wine which is proper to
Martinmas (11 November) More importantly, your downplaying of the
allegorical in favor of the 'realistic' in this scene is a bit off
base. Bruegel's painting is not reportage. There is no historical
documentation for such a wine-gift to the peasantry. How 'realistic' is it
to have a large barrel full of wine, unguarded, appearing on the outskirts
of a village? Where are the generous donors; wouldn't somebody be
keeping order or attempting to keep order here in a truly 'realisitic'
scene?? Realistic in its details, certainly, but not in the overall
scene which is fantasy.
Prof. Martin W. Walsh, Ph.D. (Cantab)
University of Michigan
The writer is a specialist in Medieval and Early Modern drama and
popular culture, and a founding member of the Center for Research in
Festive Cultures out of the Newberry Library, Chicago.
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