It’s been 450 years since Pieter Breugel the Elder painted the famous “Dulle Griet,” and still no one can agree what the painting is about. In the center of the mad surreal Boschian landscape is Dulle Griet — in English, “Mad Meg” — a homely peasant woman from Flemish folklore, wearing the armor of a soldier. In her left hand she carries a cloth bag and a couple of baskets filled to spilling with kitchen items; tucked under her armpit is a small chest. In her free hand, she holds a long sword pointed at the mouth of Hell. All around Dulle Griet, hellfires burn through the landscape, a city in ruin. There is an infestation of egg-shaped little creatures. One such creature is dancing merrily on a burning rooftop in the background. In front of Dulle Griet is another egg-shaped creature with, I believe, a spoon inserted handle-first into its anus, which is also, possibly, its mouth. Behind Dulle Griet, an army of peasant women beat away invaders (demons? soldiers?). There’s a story here, with a moral. There’s always a moral amidst hellfire. But what is it?
more from Stefany Anne Golberg at The Smart Set here.