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Title Robbing the Bird's Nest
Alternative Title The Peasant and the Birdnester
Collection Holburne Museum of Art, Bath
Artist Brueghel, Pieter, II (Flemish artist, born 1564 or 1565, died 1637 or 1638)
After Bruegel, Pieter, I (Flemish painter, ca. 1525-1569)
Date Earliest about 1580
Date Latest 1638
Description The subject comes directly from a larger, rectangular painting by Pieter Brueghel the elder, held in the Kunsthistoriches Museum, in Vienna. In this circular version, the thief appears clumsier and the peasant less assertive. It may therefore illustrate a Flemish proverb contrasting the action of the wicked thief with the restraint of the good man: 'He who knows where the nest is, has the knowledge; he who robs it has the nest.'
Current Accession Number A166
Former Accession Number 180; 40; 60
Subject allegory; figure
Measurements 17.8 x 17.8 cm cm (estimate)
Material oil on panel
Acquisition Details Bequeathed by Miss Mary Anne Barbara Holburne 1882.
Provenance Sir Thomas William Holburne, by 1867-74; by descent to Mary Anne Barbara Holburne (1802-1882), 1874.

Holburne catalogue 1867, no. 180; Holburne catalogue 1887, no. 44, as 'Old Brueghel'; Holburne catalogue 1936, no. 60, as Brueghel the elder.

Pieter Brueghel the younger, was nicknamed 'Hell Brueghel' for his favoured subject matter of religious themes, hell pieces and conflagrations. He was the eldest of Pieter Brueghel's two sons and modelled his style, as seen here, closely on his father's, often producing copies and variations of his father's compositions.

Another version by Pieter Brueghel the younger exists in the Galerie S. Lucas in Vienna, which seems very similar, but the tilt of the head is slightly more inclined in the Holburne version.

Rights Owner The Holburne Museum of Art, Bath
Author Rosie Broadley




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