The popular wisdom of the proverbs which characterized the work of the Flemish painter, Bruegel the Elder, underlines the significance of the Arcana. An extraordinary universe that recalls the daily life of our Medieval age.
During the 16th century, the determining of a profound artistic crisis in European countries where the movement for change introduced by Luther was more vigorously accepted, was one of the many effects of the Protestant Reformation. The Protestants were against religious representations in churches because they considered statues and paintings a harmful expression of papist idolatry. Therefore in Germany as well as in The Netherlands and England, artists came to lack what had been until that time one of their greatest sources of income: The creation of altar-pieces.
Painting began to decline in many countries, with the survival mainly of portraits. That did not happen in Holland, however, where a great artistic tradition called "genre painting", founded on the accurate representation of nature and daily life, existed.
During the sixteenth century the great master of this type of painting was Pieter Bruegel, called "The Elder" (Breda, Holland, ca. 1525 - Brussels, Belgium, 1569), who specialized in portraying scenes from country life.
In his painting, his compositional skills, attention to detail, the variety of ideas and details, and the richness and brightness of the colors is striking. The grotesque and the extravagant emerge in his representations of celebrations and banquets: The images of drunk and rowdy peasants appear in total opposition to the scenes established in the refined works of Italian painters and in the composed portraits of the rich by English artists.
Each card (in the Bruegel Tarot) has popular sayings as a theme or, in other cases, allegories taken from biblical texts.
The decision was made to include a literal translation of the proverbs used as an example. in order to let the reader sense and appreciate the connection between the words and the image.
0 - The Fool. Madness, Genius. Genius is a divine folly (Brilliance is a form of insanity that comes from God).
VII - The Chariot. Triumph. Ambition. Ambition intoxicates more than wine.
XVI - The Tower. Punished Pride. Ruin. The wise person falls seven times a day (Those who are wise know how to accept their mistakes).
Ace of Wands. Birth, Victory. Mushrooms can appear at any moment (New things happen all the time).
Artwork by Guido Zibordi Marchesi
Idea and graphics by Pietro Alligo
2003 Lo Scarabeo, Torino, Italy