Gregory, Joseph F. Books

Dr. Joseph F. Gregory holds a doctoral degree in art history from Binghamton University and is currently a Professor in the Visual Studies Department at Drexel University in Philadelphia. A specialist in Northern Renaissance studies as well as contemporary art, he is working on a comprehensive study of Pieter Bruegel’s biblical narratives and an anthology of critical studies of contemporary photography.

Contemporization As Polemical Device In Pieter Bruegel’s Biblical Narratives
2005 0-7734-6253-8
* This is an oversize book because of large number of photographs.

Scholars have long speculated that references to contemporary political and religious turmoil in the Netherlands can be found in the works of Pieter Bruegel the Elder. These assertions, however, have largely rested upon the interpretation of a few isolated details, and/or a perceived thematic relevance of the artist’s images to contemporary events and concerns. What the present study demonstrates is that Bruegel did indeed direct his critical attention to the contemporary world, and that he did so by using a form of biblical analogy that would have been familiar to him through his participation in the bibliocentric culture of his time, especially through his awareness of the popular dramas of the rederijkers which at times employed the same rhetorical trope. The study shows through an in-depth analysis of three of the artist’s major paintings, The Procession to Calvary, The Sermon of St. John the Baptist, and The Conversion of St. Paul, that he generated critical commentary upon the spiritual state of the contemporary world and its institutions by effectively mapping a biblical event against contemporary circumstances in order to generate comparative relations between them. This procedure generates a polemical content by showing that the behavior of contemporary individuals and institutions either repeats spiritual errors found in the biblical narrative, or else fails to live up to its examples of spiritual excellence. The study further shows that Bruegel asserted specific reformist principles in these paintings, in particular the central reformed principle of sola fide.