Pieter Brueghel the Younger
Return from the Kermesse, 1620s
Oil on panel, 39,5 x 58 cm.
Inventory number: 0011NMK
Bestowed, 1908


On a grey day, the villagers are in high spirits on the way home from the kermesse, the anniversary of the founding of the church. The nearly one hundred figures in the image illustrate a wide range of emotional states. The villagers are depicted as plain people with primitive desires and needs, while the small group of finer citizens at the front left of the painting appear aloof and calm, acting as a kind of audience to the rowdy festival scenarios. The atmosphere in the work spurs laughter and wonder. As a viewer, one cannot help but smile at the caricatured and slightly erotic scenes. But as is the case with all of Brueghel’s paintings featuring the kermesse, it is permeated by a strong moral message and can therefore be considered a satirical commentary on the immoderate lifestyle among the peasant class at the time.


Pieter Brueghel the Younger (c. 1564-1636)
Pieter Brueghel the Younger was the oldest son of the renowned Pieter Bruegel the Older, also known as Peasant Bruegel. In his prolific oeuvre, he specialised in copies and imitations of his father’s genre paintings with densely populated village kermesses and peasant weddings that became a speciality in Flemish painting far into the seventeenth century. He also produced caricatures and illustrations of hell. His paintings are often small in format, subdued in colour, and marked by strong contour lines and great richness in detail.

Translator: Jennifer Russell

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