Butcher’s Stall with the Flight into Egypt
- (aka: The Meat Stall)
- (1551), oil on wood
- 48.8 x 66.5 in. (124 x 169 cm.)
Aertsen was one of the first artists to paint “inverted still lifes,” works in which the still life elements — the temptations of the flesh in the painting above — are placed prominently in the foreground, while the narrative elements are relegated to the background.
Amid all this abundance in the foreground, the left background shows the Virgin on the Flight into Egypt dispensing charity to the faithful lined up for church, while in the right background is the prodigal son in a tavern.
About the Artist
Pieter Aertsen, Flemish, (1508-1575). A Netherlandish painter and native of Amsterdam, Aertsen was active there as well as in Antwerp. Religious works, mostly intended for churches, must have formed an important part of Aertsen’s work, though most of those works were destroyed by the iconoclasts and now survive, if at all, in fragmentary form.