The Blue Cloak - Dutch Proverbs in 16th Century Art

The Blue Cloak - Dutch Proverbs in 16th Century Art

My Dutch great grandmother spoke in at least 45% proverb. She was born in 1885 in Rotterdam and was tough as nails. She'd sit in her arm chair with a cup of tea perched on her knee and dole out proverbs like prescriptions to the situations around her. Proverbs run deep in many cultures and serve as moral guides as well as records of human folly. I find them delicious.

Behold the original 1558 engraving by Frans Hogenberg. It's often called The Blauwe Huik, or the Blue Cloak, because of the central figure of a woman putting a cloak on her husband, literally putting the wool over his eyes so he does not see her adultery. The scenes are more aptly called, "the World's Follies."

the blue cloak by Frans Hogenberg Dutch Proverbs

The next year, artist Pieter Bruegel the Elder did a painting without the captions. Notice the blue cloak scene still at center.

Here is a full list of the proverbs that appear in the painting.

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