More than any other Northern European painter, Pieter Bruegel (c. 1525–69) appeals to our modern sensibility and taste. Larry Silver concludes his excellent new book by discussing Bruegel’s influence—through his two artist-sons—on later Flemish and Dutch art. But he doesn’t mention the influence on modern works: of Bruegel’s Magpie on the Gallows on Claude Monet’s The Magpie, in which an ominous black bird also stands sentinel on a wooden crossbar in the midst of a wild landscape; and of The Harvesters on D. H. Lawrence’s painting Boccaccio Story, in which the sleeping peasant has the same triangular, sprawling, massive legs that emphasize his crotch. Christ Carrying the Cross inspired the recent Polish film The Mill and the Cross. The Blind Leading the Blind, a series of sightless eyes and stumbling men,...


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