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Bruegel in Black and White: Three Grisailles Reunited

Bruegel in Black and White: Three Grisailles Reunited


Accompanying a focused display at The Courtauld Gallery that brings together for the first time Pieter Bruegel the Elder’s only three known grisaille paintings – the Courtauld’s Christ and the Woman Taken in Adultery (which is barred from travel), The Death of the Virgin from Upton House in Warwickshire (National Trust) and Three Soldiersfrom the Frick Collection in New York – this book examines the sources, function and reception of these three exquisite masterpieces. The panels are complemented by prints and contemporary replicas, as well by other independent grisailles in order to shed light on the development of this genre in Northern Europe. 


Despite his status as the seminal Netherlandish painter of the 16th century, Pieter Bruegel the Elder (c. 1525–1569) remains an elusive artist: fewer than forty paintings are ascribed to him. Of these, a dozen are cabinet-sized. These small-scale works offer key insights as they often bear a personal significance for the artist and were sometimes given as gifts to friends and patrons. Presenting these works together for the first time is not only an extraordinary and unprecedented opportunity but it will be extremely revealing, considering their unusual nature in both Bruegel’s oeuvre and 16th-century art in general. Bruegel’s panels constitute one of the earliest and rare examples of independent cabinet pictures in grisaille, created for private contemplation and enjoyment. 

  • By Karen Serres

    Paperback, 210 x 210 mm
    56 pages, 40 colour illus.
    ISBN: 9781907372940

  • Exhibition

    The Courtauld Gallery, London, from 4 February 2016.

  • In the press

    "Fascinating” – The Telegraph


    “Revels in the dark side of this well-loved artist” – The Guardian


    "A small gem" —The New Criterion 

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