Uncovering Everyday Life - From Bosch to Bruegel

Brothel Scene with Quarrelling Prostitutes

Brothel Scene with Quarrelling Prostitutes ca. 1530

The Brunswick Monogrammist

Room D

Audio & Video

Click and Look

hotspot In Dutch, an old-fashioned word for copulation is ‘vogelen’, meaning (literally) to bird. So if you see a birdcage in a sixteenth-century painting hanging by the door, you know one thing for sure: this is a brothel.
hotspot Artists often play tricks with mirrors. Jan van Eyck painted himself in the mirror behind the merchant Arnolfini and his wife. The Brunswick Monogrammist has painted a mirror without a reflection - something, naturally, out of the question.
hotspot Sixteenth-century graffiti. It says: ‘That Thing Makes The Daughter Drop’.
hotspot His clothing shows that this customer is a learned man, perhaps even a cleric. The painter thus says that even people you least expect visit brothels.

About the creator

The Brunswick Monogrammist

active in Antwerp 1525-1550

The anonymous artist who painted this panel is named after the German town where his most famous work is saved: Braunschweig. But he worked in Antwerp and specialised in compositions with a multitude of small figures. The Brunswick Monogrammist is the first to realistically depict brothels.

Object details

material and technique: Oil on panel
dimensions: 11,42 x 17,72 inch
creditline: Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Gemäldegalerie, Berlijn