The Storm at Sea

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Storm at Sea
Joos de Momper the Younger - Storm at Sea - WGA3342.jpg
Artist Pieter Bruegel the Elder
Year 1569
Type Oil on panel
Dimensions 70.3 cm × 97 cm (27.7 in × 38 in)
Location Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna

Storm at Sea is an oil-on-panel by Flemish renaissance artist Pieter Bruegel the Elder, painted in c. 1569. It is currently held and exhibited at the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna.


In the past doubts have been raised about the attribution of this painting to Bruegel: the name of Joos de Momper, a landscape painter who became a master in the Antwerp guild in 1581, has been mentioned.[1] However, not only is this painting superior to any by de Momper; its similarity to a drawing by Bruegelsee image below and its originality of composition and delicacy of execution have made it generally accepted as a late work by Bruegel, possibly left unfinished at his death.

The preminance of the barrel and the whale has led the painting to be associated with the contemporary saying:

If the whale plays with the barrel that has been thrown to him and gives the ship time to escape, then he represents the man who misses the true good for the sake of futile trifles.[2]

This sense would be underscored by the church outlined against the horizon, which stands for safety amid the storms of life.[3]


  1. ^ Cf. Entry with video critique (in Spanish). See also, I. Haberland, "Momper, de" Grove Art Online. Oxford University Press.
  2. ^ Cf. Complete list of paintings which includes all of the 100 proverbs from the painting, with explanations (in French)
  3. ^ Cf. Pietro Allegretti, Brueghel, Skira, Milano 2003. ISBN 0-00-001088-X (in Italian)
Seascape with a view of Antwerp, pen and brown ink drawing by Bruegel, at Courtauld Institute of Art.

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