Jan Brueghel the Elder
Earthly Paradise with the Original Sin
50.3 x 80.1 cm; oil on copper (FC 341)
The sacred episode, as in many Flemish works of the time, has been pushed into the background, while the variety of animals present in Eden dominate the foreground.
The painting, signed and dated 1612, is very finely detailed, and was almost certainly done with the aid of magnifying glasses: the many details are perfectly executed, taking the possibility offered by the smooth surface of the copper support to its extreme. Brueghel’s work was closely linked to the launch of still life painting, more or less contemporarily with that of landscape painting. The Flemish painters played a very important role in this genre in Italy. The Doria Pamphilj Gallery houses many paintings by this artist, who painted some animals in other paintings as we see them in this one. In particular, the two leopards were taken from a painting by Rubens, his friend and companion, painted perhaps around 1611.