August 9th, 2019
What was considered funny in the sixteenth century, and what techniques did painters use at the time to elicit laughter? In this lecture, Friso Lammertse shows what a ‘sense of humor’ meant in the sixteenth century and especially how this was expressed in painting.
This lecture is part of the Rijksmuseum and RKD Summer School. This biennial Summer School started in 1992 and is a co-production of the Rijksmuseum and RKD – Netherlands Institute for Art History. The goal is to offer young art historians the opportunity to enrich and deepen their knowledge of Dutch art, and to foster the exchange of knowledge. The Public Lecture is the one moment where everyone – including non-participants of the Summer School – is welcome to come and listen to an inspiring talk about Dutch art.
Humor in Sixteenth-century Painting
In his famous 1604 Schilder-boeck (The Book of Painters), Karel van Mander reported that very few paintings by Pieter Bruegel the Elder could be looked at without smiling. According to Van Mander, even the grumpiest types had to chuckle at Bruegel’s works of art. That paintings served to prompt laughter was relatively new then, and Bruegel, together with well-known artists such as Hieronymus Bosch and Lucas van Leyden, stood at the beginning of this tradition. At first glance, their depictions seem to have been taken straight from life; however, the attentive viewer will soon discover a humorous slant. But what exactly did this involve? What was considered funny in the sixteenth century, and what techniques did painters use at the time to elicit laughter?
Following the lecture (in English) there will be a reception in the Rijksmuseum Café. For more information and tickets, see the Rijksmuseum website.