Bruegel Hope

Bruegel Hope 1559

Bruegel Hope 1559

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Dated 1559, Hope stands on a large anchor on a raging “sea of troubles”. She holds in one hand a spade, in the other a scythe; a tall beehive serves as her headgear. These are tools used by men whose work is especially subject to risk, and whose hearts are filled with hope for a favorable outcome – the peasant (farmer) and the sailor or fisherman. The Latin motto below reads “The assurance that hope gives us is most pleasant and most essential to an existence amid so many insupportable woes.” Sailors overboard thrash in the water, giant fish threatening, prisoners shackled in locks, a raging house fire, a pregnant woman praying, and a tiller of soil in the background, working and living, everyone in hope “amid so many insupportable woes”. You could say this hope supports existence amid the troubles and woes, and the more terrible the trials, the greater the hope needed to survive them. At wits end perhaps all will be lost save hope.

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