The Tower of Babel

The Tower of Babel c. 1568

Pieter Bruegel (I)

Room 32

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Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen

Ashida Tsubasa asked:
Where on the website can I check whether the artwork is displayed or not in your museum?
Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen responded:
Dear Ashida, On http://collectie.boijmans.nl/en you will be able to look up specific objects from our collection. On each webpage devoted to an object you will find the subheading ‘specifications’. The fourth specification given is ‘location.’ This states whether an object is currently on display, travelling or in storage. The Tower of Babel is currently travelling, as is indicated on the website: http://collectie.boijmans.nl/en/object/3723. Kind regards, Jephta
Filipe asked:
First of all, the 'most famous painting of the museum' isn't included in the masterpiece route; secondly it's not in room 5 but 6, and finally the year is 1565 not 1568.
Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen responded:
Dear Filipe, I have already sent you my response regarding your practical remarks. As for the date of the painting: The painting has not been dated. Nearly all Bruegel experts date the work late (based also on the similarities with the painting 'Die Elster auf dem Galgen' in Darmstadt, dated in 1568. So that's why we have chosen to keep with c. 1568. Best, Rianne Schoonderbeek and Friso Lammertse
Ashida Tsubasa asked:
Where on the website can I check whether the artwork is displayed or not in your museum?
Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen responded:
Hi Ashida, when a work is on display you can tell by the label on the side of the image, with the text 'Now on display'. Right now, the Tower of Babel is not on display in Rotterdam, but is on view in Tokyo as part of an exhibition displaying the museum's highlights of 15th- and 16th-century Dutch masters. All the best, Rianne
Tim Mak asked:
On the left side of Bruegel's Tower, why is there a "red strip" and a "white strip" from the ground to almost the top?
Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen responded:
Dear Tim, Well-spotted! If you look carefully, the upper part of the tower is of a brighter red colour than the bottom part. Since the bricks in the lower parts of the tower have sat there for a longer time, they are more corroded and weathered. The red vertical strip you described indicates the transport of new red bricks to the top of the tower. The white vertical strip you furthermore mentioned is indicative of the transport of limestone. Cheers, Frederieke
Marie asked:
Hello! I am writing a paper for my Art History class, and I chose to analyse Pieter Bruegel's The Tower of Babel. Unfortunately, I cannot find any relevant information about the patronage of this art work. If you told me who was the patron for this painting (if there was one), it would help me a lot! Thanks in advance.
Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen responded:
Dear Marie, Unfortunately, it is unknown whether the painting was commissioned by anyone. According to Karel van Mander’s accounts, the painting was part of the collection of Rudolf II of Prague at the beginning of the seventeenth century, together with the larger version of this painting. Best, Frederieke
Masa asked:
Hi, when The Tower of Babel will came back and on display? How about during April to October in 2019?
Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen responded:
Dear Masa, The Tower of Babel is currently on loan to Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna, it will be on display there until January 13, 2019. Kind regards, Esther
Takashi asked:
Hi, Could you advise where can we watch "The Tower of Babel" now (= on NOV-DEC 2018) ?
Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen responded:
Dear Takashi, You can see The Tower of Babel in the ‘Kunsthistorisches Museum’ in Vienna, Austria, until 13 january 2019. Kind regards, Esther
Takashi asked:
Thanks for your kind reply! One more question, "When" The Tower of Babel will come back and on display in your museum?
Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen responded:
Hi Takashi, the Tower of Babel will be back on display in our museum from the middel of February 2019. Will you come and see it? best, Sophie
YukoF asked:
Hello. I’m Yuko. I’ll visit your museum in the middle of April,and I’d like to The Tower of Babel. Can I see it in the middle of April?? Or could you tell me when I can see it ? Sincerely Yuko
Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen responded:
Dear Yuko, You can see The Tower of Babel in our exhibition ‘When the Panels are Closed’, from 9 february until 26 may 2019. Enjoy your visit in April! Kind regards, Esther
E.O. asked:
Could you tell me when will it be on display again?
Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen responded:
Hi E.O., The Tower of Babel will be on display from February 9 - May 26, 2019 in our new presentation 'When the Shutters Close'. Will you come and visit us to see it? best, Sophie

About this artwork

In this famous painting Bruegel depicts the biblical story of man's hubris and their desire to build a tower that reached to the heavens. God punished them with a Babelonian confusion of tongues. Countless people are flocking around the structure, which reaches to the clouds. Breugel took inspiration for the architecture of his tower from the Colosseum in Rome. In the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna is another painting by Bruegel with the same subject.

About the creator

Pieter Bruegel (I)

Brueghel circa 1526/1530 - Brussel 1569

Pieter Bruegel was born around 1525, probably in or near Breda. From 1551 he worked in Antwerp, at the time one of the most important cities in Western Europe. In 1552 or 1553, he travelled via France to Italy, right down to Sicily. After 1560, he went to work in Brussels, where he married the daughter of Pieter Coecke van Aelst, who was probably his teacher. Initially he produced mainly landscapes, but later figurative pieces, with religious, didactic or satirical subjects, predominated. Thanks to the last two subjects, he acquired the nickname 'Farmer Bruegel'. Pieter Bruegel the Elder was the founder of a painters' dynasty, which included his sons Pieter Brueghel the Younger, known as 'Hell Brueghel', Jan Brueghel the Elder, known as 'Velvet Brueghel', and his grandsons Jan Brueghel the Younger and David Teniers the Younger.


Object details

material and technique: oil on panel
kind of object: painting
creditline: Verworven met de verzameling van / Acquired with the collection of: D.G. van Beuningen 1958
inventory number: 2443 (OK)