Art Appreciation Group


Census at Christmas by Bruegel

Personally, I never understood this painting, but now I am beginning to understand.  I didn’t understand the concept of the relocation of Mary and Joseph on a donkey in Belgium in the snow.  It doesn’t snow in Bethlehem.  What was it all about?

Bruegel was very clever and trying to make people identify with the concept of misplaced persons by making it our displacement and our crisis. Firstly, he was trying to make you think of paying taxes, resenting the government. There is a tax collector in the corner. The idea of a foreign government who took the money from you to meet their needs, I think we were all beginning to identify with this painting.  I certainly was.

Bruegel displaced Mary and Joseph into Belgium to suggest the idea of population dispersal. We talked lots about people being displaced.  Where nowadays would this happen?  The documentary suggested Diafur and we spoke of poverty in Somalia.  This situation is current and children are being brought into the world in poverty. This definitely was food for thought.

At the same time, Bruegel suggested everyday life continuing as normal.  He showed children playing, soldiers drinking, beggars begging and people just going about their everyday chores.  This again is life and we all identified with the painting.  Life just does go on and on.  The humdrum everyday chores, we all know these feeling and Bruegel expressed it all so beautifully.

During the 45 minute DVD we had all gone from dark to light and now identified with this painting and everything it expressed.  However, it was postulated that Bruegel was the first of the industrial artists and we felt our lack of knowledge about the different periods of art was apparent.  At this, David and I got ideas for future meetings.

Our next meeting is on Wednesday at 11 am on 16 January.  This group is new and we are evolving to reflect our interests so we have a DVD about Botticelli’s Primavera from the Private Life of a Masterpiece series on Renaissance Masterpieces.

We will be staying for lunch at the Parquesol.  Thank you for your support and cooperation.

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