In this small painting, the figure of Christ is almost lost amid the dense, multi-colored crowd. Identified by a pale yellow halo, Christ stands on a rustic podium near the crowd’s center. He presents his sermon on the conditions of blessedness. Behind Christ, his disciples pay rapt attention, but many in the diverse throng prefer to socialize with one another. In the foreground, a gnarled gypsy tells fortunes and a vendor sells pretzels. To the right, below a distant vista, a man in a long coat and dark hat directs two women in elegant gowns toward the crowd. Jan Brueghel the Elder painted this festive scene on a thin sheet of copper. The work’s bright colors, fine details, and enamel-like finish are accentuated by the hard copper support. Brueghel’s unmatched ability to describe figures and landscape in great detail transforms the painting into a jewel-like object intended for close scrutiny.
(Text courtesy of the Getty’s Open Content Program, CC BY 4.0).