Gillis van Valckenborch I


Oil on canvas, 90 x 118 cm

Perhaps the plot of the painting was inspired by the artist’s impressions of the trip to Rome in 1590-92. The painting depicts the medieval “Feast of Fools” with a comic procession involving a donkey walking among Roman ruins. The behavior of the carnival participants goes beyond Christian norms, but apparently corresponds to the moral state of Roman society at that time. After the famous “Sack of Rome” by the Landsknechts in 1527, the political authority of the pope was undermined, and the humanistic ideas of the Renaissance were compromised. This could not but affect the moral state of Roman society. The city plunged into political and economic chaos for a long time. It is interesting that these dramatic events influenced a change in style in art. Mannerism appeared, which not only drew a line under the Renaissance, but with its eccentricity reflected confusion and confusion in society.

However, in our opinion, in this noisy, multi-figure composition, some characters can be interpreted as reminiscences of famous Christian saints. Perhaps, as the artist intended, their secret presence among the Roman ruins gives hope for the correction of society, for the revival of Christian values.