Making Them Laugh: Elements of the Comic in the Peasant Revel Scenes of Pieter Bruegel the Elder, 1550-1580
The peasant scenes of Pieter Bruegel the Elder have triggered a scholarly debate that relies on two different approaches. One view attaches to these images a primary moralizing message, while the other places them within the cultural context of the contemporary art of laughter. In my thesis I will argue that the peasant revel scenes are primarily comic in nature, without diminishing the moralizing message. My argument relies on two main theories developed by Henri Bergson and Mikhail Bakhtin, as well as on the similarity between the visual elements employed by Pieter Bruegel and the comic practices and techniques employed in the theatrical art of commedia dell'arte. I discuss the role of the peasant as a comic type and the use of grotesque realism in the visual representation of the body and the lower material bodily stratum as indicators that artists chose their visual vocabulary with a comic intent.
School:University of Cincinnati
School Location:USA - Ohio
Source Type:Master's Thesis
Keywords:pieter bruegel the elder peasant scenes comic laughter
Date of Publication:01/01/2008