barber institute of fine arts
university of birmingham

Pieter Brueghel the Younger (1564/5 – about 1638)

Two Peasants Binding Faggots

Antwerp, about 1620

Oil on wood

36.2 x 27.3 cm


Peasants binding a bundle of branches for firewood were often painted as one of winter’s labours.  The precise subject here is unknown, although it is clearly critical in tone. 

The peasants, with their accomplice in the distance, look around suspiciously – they are possibly stealing the wood.  Other vices are hinted at.  The stout man to the left symbolises gluttony and his gaunt accomplice to the right, with his codpiece and phallic pipe, represents lechery. Pieter Brueghel the younger often painted copies and pastiches of his father’s work, though no prototype is known here.


Purchased 1944 (No.44.11)