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Painting "Tower of Babel": description

Among all works of world fine art, Brueghel's painting "The Tower of Babel" occupies a special place. Its main feature is that it is in accordance with what is depicted on it that most of humanity imagines what one of the most striking events of the Old Testament looked like.

From the history of the masterpiece

It is well known that the "Tower of Babel", a painting by the eminent Dutch painter of the sixteenth century Peter Brueghel the Elder, was written by him in 1563. It is her art critics who are considered to be the first of two author's variants of this work. The first of these is currently in the Museum of Art History in the Austrian capital, and the latter is exhibited in the artist's homeland, in the Museum of Boismans-van Bönningem in Rotterdam. The second option is almost twice less than the first. In addition, it has a darker color gamut, it depicts fewer characters. Both versions of the work were painted with oil paints on a wooden base.

What does the viewer see in the picture?

The painting "Tower of Babel" by Peter Bruegel opens before the viewer a mysterious image of the legendary biblical structure, which is in the midst of its erection. But even in an unfinished form, the tower shakes the imagination of the viewer. The strongest impression is made not so much by the structure itself, ascending to the sky-high altitude, but also the engineering and architectural persuasiveness with which it is built.

All the scrupulous elaboration of the smallest details is strictly subordinated to the general plan. And this does not leave the slightest doubt that such a structure could really be built. The tower represents a single bright architectural image, extremely bold in its design and convincing in its engineering embodiment in practice. The reality of what is happening is emphasized by people working on construction. The painting "The Tower of Babel" captured the builders until the moment when the enraged Supreme Creator halted the embodiment of their project by their will. They still do not know that the Tower will not be completed, and busily climb up with building materials and tools. In the foreground you can observe the ruler of Babylon Nimrod with his entourage. It was this figure who was considered the architect and leader of the construction of the Tower of Babel. It is interesting to note that the background landscape with the river and boats does not look like ancient Mesopotamia, where, according to the original source, a tower was built. As a background, the artist clearly portrayed his own Holland.

The Biblical Basis of the Plot

The most detailed description of the painting "The Tower of Babel" can tell little to the viewer, not aware of the biblical story. And in that part of it, which in the Orthodox tradition is referred to as the "Old Testament." Painting of Brueghel "The Tower of Babel" has a source of inspiration for the Book of Genesis, the first of the Pentateuch of Moses. This Old Testament prophet is traditionally honored in Christianity along with the apostles and evangelists. This fundamental work underlies the three world religions.

Of course, the picture of Bruegel "The Tower of Babel" is devoted to only one specific episode of this book. He talks about how people dared to measure their creative power with God and set out to build a big city with a tower to the skies in its center. But the Supreme Creator stopped this intention by mixing the languages of the townspeople, as a result of which they ceased to understand each other. And the construction stopped. The parable illustrates the futility of human pride in relation to God.

Trip to Rome

The painting "The Tower of Babel" shows a very large number of architectural details to the viewer. It is difficult to imagine that they were all taken by the artist from his own imagination. Moreover, in his homeland, in Holland, such architecture is absent. Indeed, from historical sources it is known that in 1553 Peter Bruegel the Elder made a visit to Rome, where he made sketches of ancient architecture.

First of all his attention was drawn to the Colosseum. It is his outlines that are easily recognized in the Tower of Babel. On the Colosseum, it is similar not only to the outer wall, but to the whole carefully traced internal structure. An attentive viewer can easily find many similar in arcade tiers, colonnades and double arches of both architectural constructions - fictional and real. And to look for a difference between them, it is worth looking at the east, towards the Ancient Mesopotamia.

Images of Ancient Mesopotamia

Many researchers of ancient history have observed that the "Tower of Babel", a picture of Peter Brueghel, is largely inspired by the real architecture of Mesopotamia. For the unique culture of this ancient country, located between the Tigris and the Euphrates, this architecture is typical.

On the territory of modern Iraq, one can still find ziggurats - ancient religious buildings. The principle of their construction is identical to the tower with a picture of Brueghel. To their top is the same spiral overpass along the outer wall. It had a mystical meaning and ritual meaning - on it people climbed to heaven. Of course, in size, no ziggurats can compete with the Tower of Babel. But they are located in the same area that is described in the Old Testament. This coincidence can not be accidental. Thus, the painting "Tower of Babel" reflects the architectural images of two ancient civilizations - Rome and Mesopotamia.

Reflections and Refractions

"The Tower of Babel," a painting by Peter Brueghel the Elder, was one of the most striking and memorable images in the history of the visual arts. Throughout its nearly half-millennial history, it was copied many times, parodied and reinterpreted by other artists of different eras.

In particular, this image can be seen in the film adaptation of Tolkien's famous novel The Lord of the Rings. It was the painting "Tower of Babel" by Peter Brueghel that was the source of inspiration for the film's artists. It is the city of Minas Tirith, where one of the most important episodes of the cult narrative takes place.

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