Study of drawing Dulle Griet Düsseldorf

A unique drawing of Dulle Griet from the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf, on permanent loan at the Museum Kunstpalast in Düsseldorf, was brought to the Royal Institute for Cultural Heritage (KIK-IRPA) in Brussels for a four-day interdisciplinary study. The drawing, attributed to Pieter Bruegel the Elder, is very similar to his painting of the same subject in the Museum Mayer van den Bergh in Antwerp, which is currently at KIK-IRPA for conservation-restoration.

The drawing of Dulle Griet is known by researchers, but has never been given due consideration. Dr Christina Currie (KIK-IRPA), specialist in the work of Pieter Bruegel the Elder and Pieter Brueghel the Younger, initiated and coordinated the technical and art-historical study of the drawing. Dr Sonja Brink, curator in the Department of Prints and Drawings at the Museum Kunstpalast in Düsseldorf, accompanied the drawing on its journey to Brussels and supervised and took part in the examinations.  

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For this study the KIK-IRPA used its trademark interdisciplinary approach. Examination in normal conditions and with the binocular microscope was carried out in consultation with Livia Depuydt, head of the painting studio, and conservator-restorer Laura Debry. The work was documented with infrared reflectography by Sophie De Potter and photographed in visible, raking, infrared, ultraviolet and transmitted light by Jean-Luc Elias. Scientific analysis with macro X-ray fluorescence and Raman spectroscopy was performed by Dr Steven Saverwyns assisted by Marie-Christine Maquoi. Care was taken to ensure good environmental conditions throughout, in consultation with Marjolijn Debulpaep, head of the preventive conservation unit.

By cross-comparing the results of the scientific imagery and analysis, the KIK-IRPA hopes to discover more about the drawing itself as well as its relationship to Bruegel’s painting of the same subject. Indeed, the study is already proving useful for the ongoing restoration of the painting!

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The investigation of the drawing is being carried out in collaboration with Dr Dominique Allart, professor at the University of Liege and expert on Pieter Bruegel the Elder. The results of this interdisciplinary study will be presented at the international conference on Pieter Bruegel (The Bruegel Success Story - http://conf.kikirpa.be/bruegel2018/) in Brussels in September 2018 and published in the conference proceedings.