vrijdag 22 januari 2016

Bruegels Wildeman - 'Het Spel van de Wildemansjacht'

Anonymus, naar Bruegel, The Wild Man or the Masquerade of Orson and Valentine, 1566, houtsnede, 27,4 × 41,3 cm, New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, inv. 26.72.45
Volgens Timothy Husband in zijn catalogus bij de tentoonstelling 'The Wild Man: Medieval Myth and Symbolism', die plaats had in 'The Cloisters' van 'The Metropolitan Museum of Art', van 9 oktober 1980 tot 11 januari 1981, zou de hierboven getoonde houtsnede van Bruegel, de uitbeelding zijn van het carnavalsspel 'Het Spel van de Wildemansjacht'.

Hij beschrijft het tafereel als volgt: 
"Wandering in a cobbled street before a rustic public building is a man disguised as a wild man. 

He wears a scaly suit, vine tendrils tied around his waist and head, 
a full beard, and carries a massive spiked club on his shoulder. 

At the far left a man representing an emperor holds an orb in one hand
and grips the hilt of his sword in the other. 

Before him a soldier wearing a full-brimmed hat and a
sword at his side, points a crossbow at the wild man. 

To the right a woman wearing a mantle and a bowl-shaped hat, 
holds out a ring in her hand. 

In the background two figures, each with an alms box in hand,
solicit money from the viewers in the public house. 

A large tree and dense woods fill the background to the left of the house. 

In the foreground a stone and a bone lie on the ground at the edge of a patch of grass. 

In the lower right corner, engraved in the plate, are the date, 1566, and beneath it: BRVEGEL."

"The scene in this woodcut, [...] represents a dramatization of the wild man hunt. 
['frequently misidentified as the Masquerade of Valentine and Orson': 
zie titel van het werk en de aantekening 'Bruegels Wildeman - alternatieve interpretatie']

The general scenario of these plays involves a wild man rousted out of a cave or nearby forest, and, amid much grunting and bellowing, caught and bound in chains.
His display arouses much tension and anxiety among the witnesses.
He is usually then dragged off for a ritual execution.
Known in many variations, plays of this sort were enacted in many parts of Europe,
and the tradition survives in certain areas of south Germany and Switzerland to this day."

Pieter Bruegel, De Strijd tussen Vasten en Vastenavond, 1559, olieverf op paneel, 118 x 164,5 cm, Wien, Kunsthistorisches Museum, inv. GG_1016

Pieter Bruegel, De Strijd tussen Vasten en Vastenavond, 1559 (detail)

"The present composition is based on a detail in Pieter Brueghel the Elder's allegorical painting
 'The Struggle of Carnival and Lent', and probably records a Flemish variant performed in the pre-Lenten season.

Plays of the wild man hunt were usually performed early in the year, in February before Lent;
in this context the wild man represents the end of winter and the fertility rites of the coming spring. Sometimes such plays were staged as late as June or September and, in regions where the wild man had lost his mythological functions or his fearsome qualities, at any time of year, apparently for no other reason than entertainment. [zie Bernheimer 1942]

The two figures soliciting contributions in the background of this representation suggest the drama was presented by an itinerant troupe and performed repeatedly.

 The ritualistic nature of the Brueghel play is complex.


The presence of the emperor indicates that the wild man is to be judged by a higher authority before he dies at the hands of the soldier with the crossbow.

The significance of the woman holding a ring is clearer in [the painting]. There the woman (or man impersonating a woman) wears a white mask, and the wild man focuses his attention on the ring she holds. Symbolizing union with a woman, the ring tempts the wild man with the holy and legal bond of matrimony from which he is barred [see Competition between a wild man and a knight for the favor of a lady: a wild man seizes a maiden, who struggles and gestures both toward the knight holding out a ring and to the wild man (...): the ring symbolizes the bond of marriage or the civilized and godly union between a man and a woman, a sacrament from which the wild man is barred.]

Anonymus, Competition between a wild man and a knight for the favor of a lady, 1350-1375,
Minnekästchen (koffer) met 4 allegorische scenes - rechts eindpaneel, eik en lindehout met resten van polychromie, ijzer randen en montage, gedeeltelijk verguld, 13 x 31 x 23 cm, Köln, Kunstgewerbemuseum, inv. A.318

The soldier and emperor, with his sword drawn in the painting, stalk the wild man, ready to strike him down for his transgression against man's civilized order. The wild man is the subliminal incarnation of man's evil nature, which is cathartically expunged by his ritual death."
(Husband 1980pp. 156-157)

Pieter II Brueghel [de Jonge], Het gevecht tussen Carnaval en Vasten, s.d., olieverf op hout, 121,3 x 171,5 cm, Brussel, Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten, inv. 12045 (detail)

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