Pissing Against the Moon


Flemish painter Pieter Bruegel the Elder excelled in depicting daily life and often created visual allegories in paint through the combination of activities and objects.  While most of his paintings require the viewer to interpret the allegories through careful observation and knowledge of Flemish idiomatic expressions, a series of twelve wooden plate paintings each include a phrase to assist in deciphering the allegory.  Can you figure out what the following proverb means?

Whatever I do, I do not repent, I keep pissing against the moon.

(Vat ick vervolghe en geraecke dar niet aen ick pisse altyt tegen de maen)

Pieter Bruegel the Elder, Pissing Against the Moon, 1558, oil on panel.  Musée Mayer van den Bergh, AntwerpPieter Bruegel the Elder, Pissing Against the Moon, 1558, oil on panel.  Musée Mayer van den Bergh, Antwerp

"Pissing against the moon" essentially means wasting one’s time in futile activities.  So on this Saturday, will you be pissing against the moon? 

BTW, I couldn’t help but hum Tubthumping by Chumbawamba while writing this entry…

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Consistently amazed by how out of time Pieter Bruegel the Elder’s work really was.

Today I was able to give a complete stranger accurate directions, purchased a record that should’ve been at least $25 for $5, stood up for myself in making plans, saw a bit of a free concert in Millennium Park, and got to share a wonderful beer with a one of my best friends. How on Earth could I say this was anything other than a wonderful day?



The Temptation of Saint Anthony:

Hieronymus Bosch, c. 1485, Museo del Prado

Matthias Grünewald, Isenheim Altarpiece, 1512-16, Unterlinden Museum, Colmar, Alsace, France

Lieven van Lathem, 1469, about 1471, and about 1480 - 1490, The J. Paul Getty Museum (Ms. 37), Los Angeles

Joachim Patinir and Quinten Metsys, c. 1520-1524, Museo del Prado, Madrid

Pieter Huys, 1547, Louvre Museum, Paris

Giovanni Tiepolo, 17th century, Pinacoteca di Brera, Milan,

Alessandro Magnasco, 1710-1720, Louvre Museum, Paris

Max Ernst, 1945, © 2007 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris

Is it weird that I don’t find any of these paintings that weird.