Collection Highlight: Dance Around the Maypole

Image of renaissance era peasants dancing around a maypole

Pieter Brueghel the Younger (1564-1637/1638), Flemish, Dance Around the Maypole, ca. 1625-1630, Oil on panel, Gift of Val A. Browning

In celebration of May Day, let’s examine one of my favorite paintings in the UMFA collection, Dance Around the Maypole by Pieter Brueghel the Younger. This scene of peasants having a lively May Day celebration includes a maypole and dancers, of course, but a closer look  reveals a sword fight, skinny dippers, a person vomiting and a person peeing in the bushes – not your typical Renaissance subject matter! I hope your May Day is lively, but involves fewer bodily fluids being expelled in public.

Dance Around the Maypole is currently on view in the European galleries.

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