3. A Painting and a Poem – the painting

This is an old painting by sixteenth-century Flemish painter, Pieter Brueghel (1567-8). Pieter Brueghel, the Elder, was a painter of peasant life. This painting is called Kermesse.
Kermess is a word of Flemish origin used in the course of time to designate a periodical outdoor festival. Every village had a kermess once or twice a year. Known as “la kermesse” in France, “die Kermes” in Germany, and “la quermes” in Spain, by any name it has come to mean a small neighborhood carnival featuring games of chance and skill, music, refreshments, entertainment, laughter, and fun.

Oil on canvas, approximately 45 inches x 64.5 inches. Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna.

For more information on Pieter Brueghel, the Elder: 

Preliminary tasks:
1.  Look at the picture  
a.  List all movement you can detect in the picture. 
b.  How are people communicating and interacting? 
c.  What do you imagine the topic of discussion is, in each case? 
d. What is the setting? Describe the environment, as precisely as you can. 
Remember this is painted in the 15th century! Is there anything you find 
e.  What is the season? How do you see that? 
f. Comment on the clothing style. What is it that especially strikes you about the 
people’s clothing? 
2.  Look at the picture again 
a.  Comment on the colours. 
b. What adjectives would you use to describe the atmosphere and the scene? At 
least three. 
c.  Put yourself in the picture what would you be doing? 

Remember you are a teen‐ager, not a grown‐up! Use your imagination!