The Drunkard Pushed into the Pigsty Pieter Bruegel Buy Art Prints Now
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Tom Gurney BSc (Hons) is an art history expert with over 20 years experience
Published on June 19, 2020 / Updated on October 14, 2023
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The Drunkard Pushed into the Pigsty appears several times within the work of the Bruegel dynasty, with this painting likely to have been the very first and directly from the hand of Pieter Bruegel the Elder.

The humorous scene captures peasant life, which is something adored by Bruegel. Here we see someone being shoved into a pigsty by a group of rowdy residents who are perhaps unhappy with his behaviour. The poor pig can be seen looking uncomfortable as his unwelcome guest arrives with out so much as a warning. Behind the door of the pigsty are many more figures, desparate to enjoy the humiliation of this man as he is forced to sleep with the pigs for the evening. There is an innocence to charming scenes such as these, and you will find similar in another two famous Bruegel paintings, namely Peasant Wedding and Peasant Dance.

Round artworks such as this from the Northern Renaissance are generally known as roundels. Bruegel the Younger created his own version of this painting and that recently received a value of around £800,000 at auction, meaning the original from his father would surely be now worth several millions of pounds. An engraving has also been uncovered with a very similar composition, albeit with a little more detail behind the figures. That has not been proven to be either of the Bruegel family, but is highly likely to have been from either of them or perhaps a member of their studio. There remains question marks over the attribution of a number of artworks from this period, with little new evidence likely to arrive to clear things up, other than perhaps some of scientific techniques now being used.

The attention to depicting the lives of the ordinary working folk is what many remember Bruegel and his son for. Most were more interested in connecting with royalty and well connected merchants at this time, where more money could be made and also elements of power could be gained. This did not interest Pieter Bruegel who was more committed to producing the best work that he could and to focus on quality over commercial success. In time, he would achieve academic respect for this and his work continues to be highly regarded today, with him becoming somewhat of a cult figure within the art world. These achievements would also encourage other members of the Northern Renaissance to follow a similar path as well.