The Role of the Proverb in 16th Century Art: Erasmus & Bruegel


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What is a proverb?

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1. What was the focus on Humanism?

2. What was the purpose of Erasmus' Adagia?

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About This Quiz and Worksheet

During the 16th century, artists in Northern Europe veered away from the religious icons and symbolism that dominated the work of their Italian counterparts and began painting still lifes and scenes that incorporated imagery rooted in proverbs or short bits of collectively shared wisdom on life and human nature. This quiz/worksheet combo helps you understand the factors that led to the rise of proverbs in art and how Pieter Bruegel the Elder's painting Netherlandish Proverbs is the most famous and straightforward example of this trend in art history.

Quiz & Worksheet Goals

In these assessments you'll be tested on the following:

  • Definition of genre painting
  • Subject and goal of Erasmus' work Adagia
  • Renaissance philosophy of humanism
  • Scope and meaning of the painting Netherlandish Proverbs
  • Definition of proverb

Skills Practiced

This quiz and worksheet allows you to test the following skills:

  • Information recall - access your understanding of the use of proverbs in 16th-century art
  • Knowledge application - use you knowledge to explain the 16th-century interest in proverbs
  • Making connections - examine how genre painting was a natural vehicle for imagery based on proverbs

Additional Learning

To learn more, review the accompanying lesson, The Role of the Proverb in 16th Century Art: Erasmus & Bruegel. This lesson covers the following objectives:

  • Understand the Renaissance appreciation of proverbs
  • Describe how Erasmus' work Adagia reflected the intellectual trend of the Renaissance
  • Explain how Bruegel set the standard for incorporating proverbs in painting
  • Understand Bruegel's use of proverbs as a device to critique human nature