In line with the arguments set out above it can be stated that the tuchlein of The Wine of Saint Martin’s Day is an original, signed work by Pieter Bruegel the Elder. Its size makes it the largest known work by the artist to have survived, in which Bruegel presented a complex composition that reveals his mastery in the depiction of a large number of interconnected figures in a wide range of dynamic poses, painted with enormous skill “alla prima”, directly with the brush onto the unprimed linen support.
Given that part of the date at the lower left corner is missing it is not possible to give a precise date for the work. Stylistically, it conforms to the final years of Bruegel’s career, between 1565 and 1568, when the artist depicted larger figures with a greater sense of emotional expressivity.
The identification of this painting as by the hand of Pieter Bruegel the Elder makes it one of the most important discoveries for many years with regard to his oeuvre. This is a unique work due to its subject matter and the way in which Bruegel resolved the composition. In addition, the small number of surviving works by the artist (only three of which are in private hands) and the fact that it comes from a historic collection of recognised quality and importance – that of the Medinaceli ducal house – all demonstrate the outstanding and exceptional importance of its acquisition for the Museo del Prado.
- Gabriele Finaldi
- Deputy Director for Collections and Research
- Pilar Silva Maroto
- Head of the Department of Spanish Painting (1100-1500) and Flemish Painting and Northern Schools (1400-1600)
Museo Nacional del Prado, September 2010