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The Egg Dance by Pieter Aertsen

    The Egg Dance by Pieter Aertsen

    The Egg Dance by Pieter Aertsen was created in 1552. The painting is in Rijksmuseum Amsterdam. The size of the work is 84 x 172 cm and is made of oil on panel.

    At right, in this brothel, a young man does an egg dance to the music of a bagpiper. While dancing, he had to roll an egg within a chalk circle – without it breaking – and to cover it with a wooden bowl. This ‘pointless’ amusement, along with the dissolute behaviour of the other figures, served as a moral warning against debauchery… Discover more in Rijksmuseum Amsterdam.

    The Artist: Dutch mannerist painter Pieter Aertsen was born in Amsterdam (1509). He is credited with the invention of the monumental genre scene, which combines still life and genre painting and often also includes a biblical scene in the background. He was active in his native city Amsterdam but also worked for a long period in Antwerp, then the centre of artistic life in the Netherlands.

    After he returned in 1556, various Amsterdam churches, his principal patrons, commissioned Aertsen to make large altarpieces. Soon, however, he abandoned religious art and started to paint scenes from peasant life. He was known above all for his paintings of market scenes and kitchen tableaux, which contained an abundance of fruit, fish, poultry, cheese, bread and much besides. His younger cousin and pupil Joachim Bueckelaer also painted in the same genre and developed it further. Aertsen’s work included the painting of large altarpieces as well as smaller devotional works… Read more.

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