Pieter Bruegel the Elder – The Sabbath / Netherlandish Proverbs

Encylopedia of Superstitions

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Fleet Foxes LP Cover

Apologies for the lack of activity as of late… Here’s an expansion on Netherlandish Renaissance painter Pieter Bruegel the Elder (c. 1525 – September 9, 1569)

The top image is a scan of an Occult/Supernatural charity-shop-book-special; by special I mean that is seems there’s always a surplus of these type of books, be it ufo’s, unsolved mysteries or archaeological anomalies. The cover featured here dates from 1974 and is the GB edition of “Encylopedia of Superstitions” a hardback which chronicles fabled British superstions from Adder’s Tounge’s & Apples to YellowHammer’s & Yew Tree’s (no Z’s are listed)…

The jacket design by Ralph Mabey is a coloured reworking of a Sixteenth Century engraving composed by Flemish painter Pieter Brueghel the Elder entitled “The Sabbath” depicting Saint James the Elder combating the diabolical enchantments of a sorcerer. Pieter Brueghel was a printmaker and painter, best known for his landscapes and particularly for his depictions of Dutch / Flemish Peasant scenes. In fact one of his best example’s ‘Netherlandish Proverbs’ (1559) has just been recycled into sleeve art for Seattle based indie/folk group the Fleet Foxes (below).

Netherlandish Proverbs (also known as The Blue Cloak or The Topsy Turvy World) depicts a land populated with literal renditions of Flemish proverbs of the day. Of the 100 or so featured several have now faded to become archaic though many have since transmigrated into English and are in common usage, see if you can spot: “swimming against the tide”, “big fish eat little fish”, “banging one’s head against a brick wall” and “armed to the teeth”. Interesting also to note that the Fleet Foxes sleeve in fact won the MTV:UK 2008 Album Art Prize, presumably Pieter picked up the prize posthumously….. See the full original art here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Bruegel_Proverbs.jpg

Pieter Bruegel the Elder is also famous for paintings such as his brooding depictions of  The Tower of Babel – see and read more about him here @ Wikipedia : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pieter_Brueghel_the_Elder

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