The Wine of Saint Martin’s Day

The Wine of Saint Martin’s Day is the largest painting by Pieter Bruegel the Elder. It is currently held in the Museo del Prado, Madrid, where it was identified as a Bruegel original in 2010. Like much of Bruegel’s work it depicts peasant life, in this case a festival known as St. Martin’s Day, which involves drinking the first wine of the season.

Scramble for the wine near the barrel

The painting, previously in the private collection of the Duke of Medinaceli in Spain, depicts a crowd scrambling madly to get a sample of the year’s first vintage from a wine-barrel, which happens to coincide with St. Martin’s Day. St. Martin can been seen on the right, on horseback, slicing off a part of his cloak to help a supplicant. On the left revelers suffer the consequences of drink, and in the background is a seascape, now mostly lost.

Revelers after having too much wine

About the painter – Pieter Bruegel, the Elder (born c. 1525) was the greatest Flemish painter of the 16th century, whose landscapes and vigorous, often witty scenes of peasant life are particularly renowned. He died in 1569 and was buried in Notre-Dame de la Chapelle in Brussels.

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