Talk:Netherlandish Proverbs

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Former good article nomineeNetherlandish Proverbs was a Art and architecture good articles nominee, but did not meet the good article criteria at the time. There are suggestions below for improving the article. Once these issues have been addressed, the article can be renominated. Editors may also seek a reassessment of the decision if they believe there was a mistake.
Article milestones
June 7, 2007Featured list candidateNot promoted
August 19, 2013Good article nomineeNot listed
Did You KnowA fact from this article appeared on Wikipedia's Main Page in the "Did you know?" column on May 23, 2007.
Current status: Former good article nominee


Wonderful article, and this is precisely the sort of thing we can do well and actually help folks. Even if we were to be wrong about a bit here or there, we open up knowledge to the curious (rather than reiterating the known to the fannish). We were, for a time, trying to really open up Hogarth's various plates (e.g. A Harlot's Progress), but petered out a bit. Good stuff, only now I must buy a print for my office. Geogre 15:34, 18 May 2007 (UTC)

Yes, I expect the proverbs suffer a bit from translation fatigue (16th century Flemish to German then to English). I did start work on Marriage à-la-mode but, in a bizarre coincidence, somebody split the article to sub-articles the same day I started work on it and I lost the will to continue. I keep thinking about tackling The Rake or Industry and Idleness, but the unreliability of my connection here wears me down. Yomanganitalk 16:56, 18 May 2007 (UTC)
Yes, this is great stuff, from the same author as our excellent article on the Four Stages of Cruelty (tips hat).
I think the Marriage sub-articles should be reverted, to be honest - better to concentrate it all in one place. Your sandbox version looked like it was going well - perhaps we should resuscitate it?
And I have the catalogue from the Tate exhibition[1] :) (It was previously at the Louvre,[2] and will shortly be reopening at the CaixaForum Madrid until 26 August[3]) -- ALoan (Talk) 14:37, 21 May 2007 (UTC)

Very nice article. I just came across a poster of the cover of the Fleet Foxes Album and without prior knowledge of this painting I recognized a number of Dutch proverbs. I had no idea that they, some of which I use occasionally still use, are already almost 500 years old. However, I think the statement that these are Flemish proverbs is incorrect, they are Dutch. First of all, one can argue if Flemish is a language in its own right or just a local variant of Dutch spoken in Vlaanderen (Flanders). Some people from Flanders or Belgium will be happy to tell you so. I must admit that I sometimes have trouble understanding people from Flanders, but so do fellow Belgians, like Dutch can also have difficulties amongst themselves with local dialects. Point is though that one of the 3 official languages (and the most spoken one) of Belgium is Dutch (others being French and German, see Belgium), but not Flemish. Dutch and "Flemish" spelling certainly are the same, variations may be in the usage of some words. In any case, these proverbs have the same meaning in Dutch and are widely used there. Of course, if the original painter would be Flemish and these were some locally used proverbs, the term Flemish would make a little bit of sense. However, Pieter_Bruegel_the_Elder is either born in Breda (Netherlands) or in what is now Belgian Limburg, not Flanders. --Prayingmantis78 (talk) 21:51, 11 September 2008 (UTC)

Can another image be obtained for the proverb "To always gnaw on a single bone"? I can't find it on the painting. I think a larger file with a wider shot would make finding it easier. Also, is there a translation for the proverb "One beggar pities the other standing in front of the door"? --Dstrube (talk) 15:35, 31 January 2010 (UTC)

Mundarten vs. Sprichwoerter[edit]

Aren't these more Figures of Speech than Proverbs? Lycurgus 10:18, 23 May 2007 (UTC)

I'm not quite sure what the point of the question is. Whether we use one description or the other in the text up for debate, but the accepted (or at least most widely used) English title for the painting is Netherlandish Proverbs. Yomanganitalk 12:57, 24 May 2007 (UTC)
The point is what the objects of discourse are. Upon closer inspection I see there actually a range of such, some of which are clearly squarely proverbs, others not so much so that the depicted class is less than well defined. Of course in the case of a classic by an old master the titling was never in question though I'd be curious to know what the authors title or common modern Nederlands title is ... Looked it up in the Nederlands wiki it's: "Nederlandse Spreekwoorden" which is consistent with the English title. FWIW I have seen work where said objects are referred to as 'thematic abstraction units'.

The translations of the proverbs are *very* rough[edit]

Plenty of them could be translated much much better than they are in the current revision, if I have the time I'll see if I can work on it. (talk) 18:01, 13 January 2010 (UTC) Jacques Mattheij

I don't have any knowledge of Dutch or translating it to English, but some of the translations use the word "shit". It doesn't make sense to me to use obscenities unless it is necessary.

Well the Dutch verb is schijten. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:43, 26 November 2011 (UTC)

Someone seems to have taken the liberty upon themselves to censor the words "shit" into "crap" and "ass" into "rear end", anyway. Neither for nor against this, just figured I'd bring it to attention. --H Hog (talk) 17:39, 7 November 2012 (UTC)

The eye & the scissors[edit]

Do we happen to know what proverb the eye on the house with the scissors opened under it represent? It's on the house with the fool playing cards. That one particularly piques my interests. -- Somarinoa (talk) 05:53, 16 September 2011 (UTC)

I believe that the scissors (shears) themselves represent the idiom Daar hangt de schaar uit ("there the shears hang out" = you will be cheated there) – referring to an establishment where you are likely to have to "pay through the nose" – and I strongly suspect that the eye is a reference to the similarly themed Door het oog van de schaar trekken ("pull through the eye [fingerholes] of the shears" = cheat, win or profit dishonestly). Literally the shears refer to the activities of cutpurses (thieves, pickpockets). --Picapica (talk) 18:24, 10 September 2012 (UTC)

Other proverbs[edit]

Near the man carrying the day in buckets is a face in a window. Above the man a pot is falling. It seems like it may hit him. Is this something? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 23:13, 4 January 2012 (UTC)

Stand in one's own light?[edit]

"To stand in one's own light" is translated as being proud of oneself. Isn't it the opposite? There's a very similar phrase in English which actually means something to the effect of being one's own worst enemy, or obstructing one's own progress. I don't speak Dutch and don't know the gist of the original; can anyone comment? Madgenberyl (talk) 16:42, 30 March 2012 (UTC)

I think you are right. Just as "to stand in someone's light" is a figurative way of saying "to obstruct someone (in their purpose)", so "to stand in one's own light" is to be an obstruction to oneself. And that is true of the Dutch idiom too: in zijn eigen licht staan (of zijn) ("stand (or be) in one's own light" means zich zelven een hindernis of beletsel zijn, tegen zijn eigen geluk of voordeel zijn ("be an obstacle or impediment to oneself, behave contrarily to one's own happiness or advantage"). See I have amended the article accordingly. --Picapica (talk) 18:40, 10 September 2012 (UTC)

Proposed external link[edit]

{{request edit}}

I have been working on a system for annotating high-resolution images, called ImageDiver, and have used it to create an album for The Netherlandish Proverbs. The album mirrors exactly the table of extracted images on the Wikipedia page.

I request that a link to this page be added to the external links section, reading perhaps:

The Netherlandish Proverbs, Zoomable and Annotated

In my own opinion, the ImageDiver page can aid a reader's understanding of the painting, since it allows the reader to see at a glance where illustrations of proverbs appear. The same kind of understanding can be gleaned from the table of extracted images on the Wikipedia page, but only with substantial effort.

As the author of ImageDiver, I have a conflict of interest, but hope that other editors will agree that the link will be helpful to Wikipedia readers, on the merits.

ImageDiver is a personal, not a corporate, project. I am not representing anyone else nor any other entity in this. ImageDiver albums are hosted at Amazon's S3.

In this note, I have attempted to adhere to Wikipedia:Suggestions_for_COI_compliance.

ChrisGoad (talk) 17:52, 3 April 2012 (UTC)

Nice addition to the article. Added. Woz2 (talk) 18:27, 21 April 2012 (UTC)

File:Pieter Brueghel the Elder - The Dutch Proverbs - Google Art Project.jpg to appear as POTD[edit]

Hello! This is a note to let the editors of this article know that File:Pieter Brueghel the Elder - The Dutch Proverbs - Google Art Project.jpg will be appearing as picture of the day on April 17, 2013. You can view and edit the POTD blurb at Template:POTD/2013-04-17. If this article needs any attention or maintenance, it would be preferable if that could be done before its appearance on the Main Page. Thanks! — Crisco 1492 (talk) 23:16, 31 March 2013 (UTC)

Netherlandish Proverbs
Netherlandish Proverbs is an oil-on-oak-panel painting by Pieter Bruegel the Elder, completed in 1559, depicting more than a hundred contemporary Dutch proverbs. These include "to even be able to tie the devil to a pillow" and "one shears sheep, the other shears pigs".Painting: Pieter Bruegel the Elder

GA Review[edit]

This review is transcluded from Talk:Netherlandish Proverbs/GA1. The edit link for this section can be used to add comments to the review.

Reviewer: Eric Corbett (talk · contribs) 15:07, 19 August 2013 (UTC) I have three fundamental problems with this article, which afraid in my judgement preclude it from meeting the GA criteria at this time:

  • The article isn't about the painting, as the title would suggest, therefore it fails to meet GA criterion 3a.
  • It's basically a list with a short introduction; lists are not accommodated by GAN, they're dealt with at FLC.
  • The claimed proverbs aren't proverbs at all; a proverb is a complete sentence, not a fragment such as "To be a pillar-biter". I note that at the previous FLC nomination the suggestion was made to rename the article to something like "List of idioms pictured in Netherlandish Proverbs", which deserved some consideration.

Consequently I'm closing this review as "not listed". Eric Corbett 15:07, 19 August 2013 (UTC)

The above discussion is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section.


Thank you for looking the article over. I'm afraid that I disagree with your suggestion and thought I should present my reasons:

  • The article clearly is about the painting. The painting depicts proverbs, the article (and list) deals with those presented in the painting. Subject, is after all, a fundamental part of any painting and this one is, effectively, a collage of a number of smaller ones. Picking each out (and explaining its significance) is therefore fundamental to understanding the painting.
  • What this means is that, though in a literal sense it is a list, it should be judged under the GA criteria. The subject is not nearly important (or notable) enough to split it - the list serves as an analysis of the proverbs which are depicted in the painting. Because it is, as explained above, a collage of many scenes, a list is the only way to consider it suitably in what would usually be regarded as a "subject" section.
  • As to the divide between proverbs/idioms/sayings, "...Spreekwoorden" 1 is the traditional title of the painting and it translates as "Proverb" in English, because it has a "morele implicatie". This isn't about value judgments, this is about

I'd be interested to know your thoughts. Brigade Piron (talk) 16:59, 19 August 2013 (UTC)

My thoughts are exactly as I stated above. The article tells me almost nothing about the painting and the so-called proverbs aren't proverbs at all. If you disagree with my assessment then you are quite at liberty to ask for a reassessment at WP:GAR. Eric Corbett 17:09, 19 August 2013 (UTC)
Thanks for the suggestion, I'll do that. Brigade Piron (talk) 17:18, 19 August 2013 (UTC)
  • Eric suggested I have a look; I have to concur with his assessment. Going through GAR strikes me as a waste of time, since I don't see how this could be listed as GA. Drmies (talk) 02:38, 20 August 2013 (UTC)
  • This is not to say, by the way, that I'm not impressed by your work. Drmies (talk) 02:59, 20 August 2013 (UTC)

Merger proposal[edit]

I propose to merge The Blue Cloak into Netherlandish Proverbs. I don't think it's clear what the topic of the Blue Cloak article even is. It seems that The Blue Cloak was a working title for the Netherlandish Proverbs painting, and much of the Blue Cloak article seems to be devoted to describing specific aspects and of the artist's painting, and inspirations for it, throughout its development. I also don't think that merging The Blue Cloak into Netherlandish Proverbs will cause any problems in regards to article size. –Matthew - (talk) 19:30, 12 July 2019 (UTC)

  • Merge, (see below) per nom. We have no idea what any of Bruegel's own titles for his paintings were; all the titles are invented by later owners or writers. Johnbod (talk) 19:42, 12 July 2019 (UTC)
  • Not a merge candidate This article was written after the article about the painting and has to do with an item of clothing called a 'huik', not a painting named after a certain type of huik. The title of the article is the phrase used as the title of a painting that is extremely popular. The title itself is an old proverb and the rest of the article explains the various interpretations. Jane (talk) 10:33, 17 August 2019 (UTC)
@Jane and Johnbod: Looking back on this, I maintain that I think it's very unclear what the article "The Blue Cloak" is actually about. The article's opening sentence, at the time that I proposed this merger and also at the time I'm typing this reply, refers to it as an "old title" for a painting by Pieter Bruegel the Elder "with a series" of Netherlandish Proverbs. I find the wording of that sentence to be pretty confusing to begin with, but then the Blue Cloak article goes on (as Jane pointed out) to list various interpretations and implementations of cloaks (or "huiks") in metaphors and artwork. So is the article about the painting Netherlandish Proverbs, which is apparently also known by the title The Blue Cloak? Does it refer to a "series" of paintings called Netherlandish Proverbs? Is "the blue cloak" a proverb? Is it a recurring artistic motif? Is it all of the above? If it shouldn't be merged into the Netherlandish Proverbs, then something else definitely needs to be done, because in its current state, the Blue Cloak article is confusing and severely lacking in sources. –Matthew - (talk) 23:21, 29 September 2019 (UTC)
  • Changing to neutral - The Blue Cloak indeed does not make its subject very clear, but this should be regarded as a motif in iconography. Netherlandish Proverbs, because of its table format, is already very long for the reader. It should be integrate better to the Blue Cloak article - Proverb 109, with the central blue cloak, doesn't even have a link, which is ridiculous. There should be a line or two here on the other. Johnbod (talk) 14:26, 17 August 2019 (UTC)
Yes Breughel fanatics are also still unclear whether the painting came before or after the popular engravings by the same title by Hogenberg & the Deuticum brothers. Last year there was a big Brueghel exhibition that might establish more clarity. It's funny how popularity sometimes makes it harder, not easier, to source the older stuff. What is also odd in general is the blue color that seems to be all over Breughel's peasants. It's not clear why the color blue was significant. Jane (talk) 18:12, 30 September 2019 (UTC)
  • Split portions: I've linked The Blue Cloak as Johnbod quite sensibly suggested; while there might be two topic here, much of the material from The Blue Cloak would be better placed on the article about the painting, leaving The Blue Cloak to focus on the proverb itself, then linking to relevant artworks. This could be done through a Split portions rather than a merge. The chunk that need to move is the entire lede except for the first paragraph. Klbrain (talk) 07:28, 12 August 2020 (UTC)
I've moved some of the material and closed the merge proposal; very happy if other would prefer a different arrangement. Klbrain (talk) 10:50, 18 September 2020 (UTC)