Great landscapes: Bruegel’s Magpie on the Gallows

Die Elster auf dem Galgen…I actually think that this is my favourite painting ever. It’s in Darmstadt, near Frankfurt, and I’ve never been there. It’s the equivalent of a modest British town like Huddersfield, yet this great work of art is tucked away in the town’s Hessisches Landesmuseum. I reckon I’m now about halfway through my Bruegel tour of the world (Vienna’s Kunsthistorisches Museum is the ne plus ultra of Bruegelism).

Hard to say why I like it so much, but I could look at it for hours. There’s a print of it hanging in my office. Life size (18″ x 20″, it’s not big). The detail is amazing, but so is the basic composition, the sense of depth, and the unresolved mystery of the subject. For one view of it’s subject matter, try this. Though the truth is, it needs no interpretation.

The Magpie on the gallows, 1568
The Magpie on the gallows, 1568
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