Tuesday's lecture will focus on the impact of the Protestant Reformation, the radical break with the Catholic church fomented by the German preacher Martin Luther beginning in 1517, which comprised among many things a strong critique of perceived decadence and idolatry in Catholic religious images. One practical result of the Reformation was the emergence of new genres of art that were not religious in subject matter, but comprised the representation of scenes from everyday life and popular culture. A particularly remarkable example is this engraving by the Netherlandish artist Pieter Bruegel the Elder (published 1557), which illustrates the popular Dutch proverb "big fish eat little fish," a comment on the hierarchical man-eat-man (or fish-eat-fish) world of human society. Remarkably, the print is not signed in the bottom left corner with Bruegel's own name but instead with the phrase "Hieronymus Bosch inventor," which would suggest that Bosch and not Bruegel designed it, even though this is not the case! What connection do you see between Bruegel's "Big Fish" print and Bosch's works that we discussed earlier in the semester, which might justify the reference to Bruegel's artistic precursor? And what you think might be possible explanations for why Bruegel and/or the publisher of this print used Bosch's name instead of Bruegel's?
To compare Bruegel's engraving with his preliminary drawing for the print in close detail, see this website: