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Full Version: Bruegel's "The Fight Between Carnival and Lent"
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I'm posting the biggest version of this painting I can find so you can see the details better. You'll have to scroll horizontally to see it all, but it's worth it, IMO. Because of the necessity of scrolling, I'm putting the painting at the very bottom, near where the scroll bars are:



Some comments on it from around the net:

From http://www.wikipaintings.org/en/pieter-b...ent-1559-1 :

The Fight between Carnival and Lent depicts a common festival held in the Southern Netherlands. On the left side of the painting there is an inn, and in the right side of the painting there is a church. The juxtaposition is meant to illustrate the two sides of human nature: pleasure and religious chastity, and the contrast between the two. Near the church sit well-behaved children. Near the inn are rambunctious drunkards. The fat man in the middle of the painting, with the pie on his head, is a representation of “carnival.” The painting represents a common theme in 16th century Europe, the battle between Carnival and Lent, and with its humor and witticism, is a satirical critique on the conflicts of the Reformation.


From http://micareme.ca/en/images/stories/sch...d_Lent.pdf :

In front of the brown building on the left, one can see characters who are performing the tale of Orson and Valentine, who are twins that were born in the forest and who were separated at birth. Orson was reared by a bear and he became savage - like. He is located on the left side of the painting, wearing a bluish - green outfit that makes one think of animal fur. Valentine was raised by a king and he became a knight. He is dressed in bright yellow and has a sword in his hand. He is located to the right of his twin brother


From http://www.andrewgrahamdixon.com/archive...rticle/130 :


The setting is the main square of an unspecified Flemish town. For all the fascinatingly minute detail of the painting (its nearly two hundred individual figures mean that a magnifying glass, or even microscope, is needed when looking at it in reproduction) everything is subordinated to a single guiding theme. The artist’s subject is a threshold between two cycles in the liturgical calendar, the moment when the last feast of winter must give way to Lenten fasting. Self-indulgence, hilarity and excess are set against self-denial and sobriety: a conflict epitomised by the mock battle taking place in the foreground of the picture, where two figures on floats, comically dressed up to embody Carnival and Lent respectively, are propelled towards each other by their followers like the combatants in a parodic joust.

The literal meaning of Carnival is “farewell to meat”, from the Latin carnem levare. Its origins are murky but may lie in the Roman Saturnalia, although it was only in the later Middle Ages that it became an established end-of-winter festival, allowing the people at large a brief moment of gluttony, laughter, drunkenness and controlled (sometimes barely controlled) anarchy before the penitential and ascetic rituals of Lent, shadowed by the solemn awareness of Christ’s crucifixion. Bruegel’s Carnival and Lent offers among other things a fascinating compendium of folkloric custom. The figure of Carnival himself, appropriately corpulent, sits astride a beer barrel with a pork chop attached to its front end and a cooking pot hanging from its side as an improvised stirrup. His helmet is a meat pie, his lance a spit on which a partially devoured suckling pig is skewered, together with pieces of chicken and beef and sundry sausages.. The pouch of knives at his belt indicate that he is a butcher by trade (the guild of butchers traditionally provided the meat for the Carnival feast, so it makes sense that one of their number should occupy pride of place in the procession). Behind this precariously seated lord of misrule, snaking back through the town square on the left side of the canvas, Bruegel fills the scene with vignettes of typically carnivalesque activity. Masked and costumed revellers brandish items associated with Shrovetide fun and games, such as the griddle which one of them plays with a pocket knife, as if its cast-iron bars were the strings of a harp. Just behind them a woman is baking waffles over a wood fire, while in the lower left-hand corner of the scene one of two men gambling at dice appears to have strapped three of those waffles to his head, perhaps because he is using them – a common custom at the time – as his stake in the game. Close by stands a tavern, filled with drunks and gawpers who are watching the performance of a popular farce known as The Dirty Bride. At the street crossing, a band of cripples have come out to beg, while behind them, outside another inn, another theatrical entertainment is taking place. Led by a bagpiper, a procession of lepers winds past.

The right hand side of the painting is given over to Lent, whose part is played in the mock-contest by a gaunt and emaciated figure dressed up as a nun and wearing as her crown a beehive, symbol of the Church. Her lance is a wooden oven peel bearing a pair of herrings, while her followers brandish pretzels and dry bread, the traditionally meagre foodstuffs of Lent. Opposite the tavern, on Lent’s side of the picture there stands a church, from which worshippers spill out, the dark smear of ashes (a mark of penitence) on their foreheads. Just inside the entrance a veiled statue can be seen, hanging on one of the pillars of the nave. It was customary to cover up all the works of art in church at Lent until Easter Sunday – when, in celebration of Christ’s resurrection, the carved and painted figures of saints and prophets would be triumphantly unveiled, brought back to life like the Saviour himself.

The artist lived at a time of great religious upheaval, when the Protestant Reformation was in full swing, and when many of the old customs were coming under threat. The Catholic attachment to Lenten rites of observance was heavily criticised by the Protestant reformers, while the spirit of Carnival was being crushed by those in authority on both sides of the religious divide. Catholic authorities became suspicious of Carnival because its parodies of church ritual seemed suddenly more pointed and subversive after the assaults of Luther and Calvin; while Protestant church leaders, for their part, disliked its spirit of excess and indulgence, distrusted its theatricality, and abominated its pagan origins. Bruegel’s view of the customs that he so vividly recreated is hard to establish, although there is a clue perhaps in the elevated perspective from which he has chosen to look down on the scene. I suspect his attitude to popular faith and festivity may have been one of amused but affectionate detachment – touched, too, by nostalgia for a world that was disappearing even as he painted it.



The Fight Between Carnival and Lent
by Pieter Bruegel the Elder


[Image: fight-between-carnival-and-lent-1559.jpg]
What I wouldn't give to get inside the head of a European Catholic in the last middle ages.... they must have lived in a completely different mental space...

Even someone who lived prior to WW2... say in the 1920's... can you imagine living in world before everyone was fed fear over drinking, smoking, and eating red-meat? What about living in a world where you didn't have Western guilt over colonization or the omnipresent Holocaust narrative?

(03-06-2014, 01:39 PM)winoblue1 Wrote: [ -> ]What I wouldn't give to get inside the head of a European Catholic in the last middle ages.... they must have lived in a completely different mental space...

Even someone who lived prior to WW2... say in the 1920's... can you imagine living in world before everyone was fed fear over drinking, smoking, and eating red-meat? What about living in a world where you didn't have Western guilt over colonization or the omnipresent Holocaust narrative?

With some serious tweaks here and there (true racism and the lack of penicillin and air conditioning come to mind), I think the world would've been so much better in so many ways back in the 1920s (though Prohibition had to go!). I'm sure things are much better in some ways now than it was then (I personally like that there's less formality, a greater openness to outliers, and a greater willingness to talk about the affective world -- though we've gone too far in those directions), but overall, things before the sexual revolution and Communism/cultural Marxism were tons better (at least I think they were).

Here's a fun question (at least in my opinion! LOL):  If you could take various aspects (art, government, music, architecture, social life, fantabulous clothes, etc.) of different historical time periods or eras and of different cultures around the world (in History or present-day), what would you put together as a "mash-up" to have the best kind of society possible, given the Fall?