A sleeping pedlar's posterior is examined by monkeys, who play with his goods. Line engraving after P. van Harlingen after P. Bruegel, c. 1610.
- Bruegel, Pieter, approximately 1525-1569.
- c. 1610
About this work
In the top-left, monkeys dance around a horizontal pole, upon which are hung a drum, a violin, bags and jewellery. A monkey in a tree bangs a drum. In the bottom-left, one monkey wears a tiara, jewels and a sword; another plays with a female doll, and peers out of spectacles. In the mirror which displays the pedlar's buttocks, a monkey is also to be seen peering out. In the top-right, the monkey by the shelf appears to be defecating into a hat. A monkey leans over the pedlar and picks his pocket
Coomen sul. Ons Coomen arme sul, was moet van t'ghaen, door drincken/ Soo dat den slacp an d'wech, hem g'heel nam t'affter dincken,/ Wij arpen saegent' haeft, naemen Sijn goet en ghingen/ dat hangen op teepronck, daer om dansen en springen ...
[Place of publication not identified] : Claes Jansz Visscher the elder, c. 1610.
1 print : line engraving
René van Bastelaer, Les estampes de Peter Bruegel l'ancien. Brussels: G. van Oest & co, 1908, p. 50
H.W. Janson, Apes and ape lore, London: The Warburg Institute, 1952, pp. 216-225 (on the fable of the pedlar and the apes as a pictorial theme)
Wellcome Library no. 17505i
Bruegel designed the original version of this scene, engraved by Pieter van der Heyden and published by Hieronymus Cock in 1562 (a state from 1557 exists, without the name of Bruegel). It bears the title 'Quand le mercier son doulx repos veult prendre, en vente les singes ses marchandises vont tendre'. It is, however, different in many respects from our version, which replaces Bruegel's name with Visscher's, the publisher, and claims van Harlingen as its inventor. Bruegel has four monkeys dancing in a circle, while others are actually playing the musical instruments culled from the merchant's sack, unlike our version, which has the monkeys dancing around the instruments. The merchant has a sack (albeit a large one) instead of an entire shelving unit and the curiosity of the monkeys is more vulgar; for instance, a monkey with an erect penis looks into the mirror (which does not play the strange role it does in our Visscher version). In the Bruegel, the merchant's trousers have also been dropped, but in the place of the mirror is a monkey simply holding its nose as if in disgust
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