The Tower of Babel – (Pieter Bruegel The Elder) Previous Next


Topic: Buildings

Date: 1563

Size: 114 x 155 cm

Museum: Kunsthistorisches Museum (Vienna, Austria)

Technique: Oil On Canvas

The Tower of Babel is a oil paintings by Pieter Bruegel the Elder. They depict the construction of the Tower of Babel, which according to the Book of Genesis in the Bible was a tower built by a unified, mono-lingual humanity as a mark of their achievement. Bruegel's depiction of the architecture of the tower, with its numerous arches and other examples of Roman engineering, is deliberately reminiscent of the Roman Colosseum, which Christians of the time saw as both a symbol of hubris and of persecution. Bruegel's paintings seem to attribute the ultimate failure of the Tower to engineering difficulties rather than to sudden, divinely-caused linguistic differences. Although at first glance the tower appears to be stable series of concentric pillars, upon closer examination it is apparent that none of the layers lie at a true horizontal; rather, the tower is built as an ascending spiral. However, the workers in the painting have built the arches perpendicular to the slanted ground, thereby making them unstable, and a few arches can already be seen crumbling. More troubling perhaps is the fact that the foundation and bottom layers of the tower had not been completed before the higher layers were constructed.

This artwork is in the public domain.


Pieter Bruegel The Elder


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