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Bruegel's The Fight Between Carnival and Lent

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss Bruegel's painting The Fight Between Carnival and Lent.

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss Pieter Bruegel the Elder's painting of 1559, 'The Fight Between Carnival And Lent'. Created in Antwerp at a time of religious tension between Catholics and Protestants, the painting is rich in detail and seems ripe for interpretation. But Bruegel is notoriously difficult to interpret. His art seems to reject the preoccupations of the Italian Renaissance, drawing instead on techniques associated with the new technology of the 16th century, print. Was Bruegel using his art to comment on the controversies of his day? If so, what comment was he making?


Louise Milne, Lecturer in Visual Culture in the School of Art at the University of Edinburgh and Edinburgh Napier University

Jeanne Nuechterlein, Senior Lecturer in the Department of History of Art, University of York

Miri Rubin, Professor of Medieval and Early Modern History and Head of the School of History at Queen Mary, University of London

Producer: Luke Mulhall.

Available now

43 minutes

Last on

Thu 15 Jan 2015 21:30


Reading list:

Walter S. Gibson, Bruegel (Thames & Hudson, 1985)

Walter S. Gibson, Pieter Bruegel and the Art of Laughter (University of California Press, 2006)

Rose-Marie Hagen and Rainer Hagen, Pieter Bruegel the Elder, c.1525-1569: Peasants, Fools and Demons (Benedikt Taschen, 1994)

Rose-Marie Hagen and Rainer Hagen, Bruegel: The Complete Works (Taschen, 2000)

Louise Milne, Carnivals and Dreams: Pieter Bruegel and the History of the Imagination (Mutus Liber, 2011)
R. W. Scribner, Popular Culture and Popular Movements in Reformation Germany (Hambledon Press, 1987)

Useful websites: 

Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna (which includes Bruegel’s ‘The Fight Between Carnival and Lent’)

Louise Milne’s article ‘Pieter Bruegel and Carlo Ginzburg: The Debatable Land of Renaissance Dreams’ published in Cosmos 2013

Wikipedia: The Fight Between Carnival and Lent, article and image

Andrew Graham Dixon’s article on ‘The Fight Between Carnival and Lent’

A selection of Bruegel's paintings



Role Contributor
Presenter Melvyn Bragg
Interviewed Guest Louise Milne
Interviewed Guest Jeanne Nuechterlein
Interviewed Guest Miri Rubin
Producer Luke Mulhall


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