The Renaissance best remembered today, such as Michelangelo, favoured beauty and idealism; but Peter Bruegel instead sought to portray 16th-century life as it was, with a layer of grime, a touch of squalor, and an underlying sense of joy for life. His paintings depict people who lived in backward times, but who did their best to lead a hearty existence.
Portrait of an Old Woman is a fine example of his work and his artistic ethos. It is a portrayal of a 16th-century woman which makes no effort to glamourise her: rather, Bruegel appears to have caricatured her more unsightly features, so that her nose, mouth and upper head do not seem quite in proportion with each other.
And yet, she retains a definite vitality: the woman looks almost as though she is about to step out of the canvas and into the modern world, gossiping about the exploits of her post-medieval neighbours.
It is a mark of truly great works of art that each one will look as though it has a story to tell - a story that lies just outside the frame of the painting.
Anybody who buys Portrait of an Old Woman and puts it in their household will be bringing a small part of history into their home.
As well as honouring the work of an immortal artist, they will be preserving the spirit of a bygone era. The painting will serve as a window into an age long passed, when the anonymous old woman painted by Bruegel walked the streets of the Netherlands.