The Death of the Virgin
Production date
circa 1563 – 1565
Object number
NT 446749

Grisaille, oil on panel

Signed at lower left: BRUEGEL (with illegible traces of a date)
55.6 cm x 36.8 cm

The high-resolution image has not been provided.

In her final moments, the Virgin is shown receiving a lighted taper from a figure wearing a chasuble – probably Saint Peter. Mary Magadalen smoothes her pillows, whilst a man, who may be Saint John sleeps in a chair near the fire. The crucifix propped up on a pillow at the end of the bed must have been an extraordinarily harrowing devotional aid at the Virgin’s own hour of death, but would, at the same time, have brought the promise of Salvation.

In earlier versions of this subject, the mourners had always been limited to the apostolic number of twelve. The subject has been developed by Bruegel, and turned into a natural, or domestic event, to which numerous men and women are admitted.

The picture once belonged to the famous geographer, Abraham Ortelius (1527-98). It was owned later by Rubens and is, in all probability, the Bruegel listed in the inventory taken after Rubens's death in 1641.

Other artworks of this artist

The Painter and the Buyer
Desidia (Sloth)
The Descent of Christ into Limbo
The Last Judgment
Big Fish Eat Little Fish
Village Outside the Walls of a Fortress
Landscape with a fortified town
Mountain Landscape with River and Travellers
Bears in a forest
Avaritia (Avarice)
Dulle Griet
Twelve Proverbs
The Magpie on the Gallows
The Gooseherd