Jan Breughel the Younger

This painting is done Jan Breughel the Younger (1601-1678) , the grandson of Pieter Breughel who painted Icaros fall. The painting is called: God creating the Sun, Moon and Stars. In this picture we see god, depicted like a cloud. There are several bible verses referring to god surrounded by clouds.

Job 37:15-16

“Do you know how God establishes them, And makes the lightning of His cloud to shine? “Do you know about the layers of the thick clouds, The wonders of one perfect in knowledge,”

In the 17th century when virtually everyone still went to church this would have been an easily understood reference to god. At the time almost everyone believed that it was god who created the sun, moon and stars so it would be clear that Jan Breughel the Younger referred to this bible story and not one of the greek or nordic myths.

“God made two great lights–the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars.” Genesis 1:16

The sun and moon are easily recognisable in this picture. The stars are most likely represented by the zodiac signs in the sky. This is a rather clever choice by Jan Breughel the Younger because they remind of the bible verse

And God said, “Let there be lights in the vault of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark sacred times, and days and years,

The sky looks more vault-like thanks to the zodiac signs alligned in the sky like that. There are several paintings of Jan Breughel the Younger where he paints this ribbon of zodiac signs in the sky. It was in the picture of The Children of the Planet Sun as well if you look closely. And ofcourse he painted again a very pale sun similar to the one in Netherlandish Proverbs. The flowers in the foreground with wildflowers and berrys is also something you see in many Breughel-paintings. Its one think I like best with them. All the tiny details. One detail that the painter seem to have gotten wrong though is that the zodiac ribbon doesnt build a perfect dome.

breughel the younger 1

This is an interesting painting by the same artist. This one is called “The Children of the Planet Sun”.

The chariot in the sky represents the sun. There are several myths involving a solar chariot but the most famous are that a god Helios (greek) Apollo (latin) or Sol (Nordic) rides the solar chariot  everyday and that is what we see as the sun.

There are two other works by the same artist that are called “Mercury with the Children of the Planet Mercury” and “Saturn eating one of his Children with the Children of the Planet Saturn below”. They all have a similar composition with a solar chariot in the sky and children (putti) in the foreground but the chariots, the animals dragging the chariots and the deities in the chariots are a bit different.

He learned the trait from his father who also was a famous painter. He even went as far as to copy works from his father and sell them with his signature on them! The flowers in the foreground are the same type of flowers as his grandpa and dad used for example and even the sun has the same pale yellow color.

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Posted in Sun

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