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Etching and engraving on laid paper.

A brilliant, richly-inked early impression of the humorous print after Bruegel's famous roundel. Trimmed to platemark or just to the image all around.

This is the first issue of the plate, by Martinus Petri, called Merten Peeters van Ghelle (born circa 1500), which was succeeded by reissues of Claes Janszoon Visscher and Pieter Goos. Wierix's copy is thought to have been taken directly from the original painting because of the fidelity of detail between the two. The painting itself was sold by Christie's in 2002 for over GBP 3.3 million.

The picture is a moralizing one, with the central figure the subject of general derision for an unstated transgression. Visscher's later engraving and in Coinxloo's inventory label the man a "Pig" without elaborating on why ("The Pig must go into the sall" in the former; and "A picture in which the pig must go into the stall" in the latter), while subsequent interpretations have fashioned the character a drunkard. Bastelaer and Marlier described him as a drunk, even though there is no direct depiction of alcohol in the image. Visscher's print includes a quatrain that reads: "Die haer goet als droncken Swynen Brengen door in Venus Kott Moeten nae elendich quynen Enelyck int Varckensschott." That is: "Those who, like drunken pigs, waste their time in the house of Venus, will in the end have to pushed, after miserable decay, into the pigsty."

This kind of social commentary is characteristic of Bruegel, whose ability to depict the manifold weaknesses of humanity, while simultaneously rendering them sympathetic, makes him one of the most well-liked artists of the Dutch Renaissance.

Bastelaer 164; Lebeer 64.I; New Hollstein (Brueghel) A6.I; Hollstein (Brueghel) 164.I.