More than 450 years ago, Dutch master painter Pieter Bruegel the Elder painted The Dutch Proverbs, an oil on wood painting that visually represents over 100 Dutch proverbs.
Many of these proverbs still exist today such as ‘when the cat’s away, the mice will play’, or ‘banging your head against a brick wall’.
The work is on permanent display at Berlin’s Gemäldegalerie.
Scroll down to see them all and see how many you recognise!
The Netherlandish Proverbs. Pieter Bruegel the Elder. 1559. Oil on wood. 163 x 117 cm. Gemäldegalerie, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin:
1 “She puts the blue cloak on her husband.” (She cheats on, or deceives, her husband.)
In 1559, when the piece was painted, red was a color of sin. At the same time, the blue cloak she's draping over her husband tells the other half of the tale. Blue often stood for cheating or folly, which lets us know that this woman isn't simply handing over her husband's coat, but rather cheating on him!
2 Horse droppings are not figs. (Appearances are deceiving.)
3 To bang one's head against a brick wall.
4 Move like your ass is on fire!
5 They both crap through the same hole. (Bosom buddies.)
6 If the blind lead the blind, both will fall in the ditch. (The blind leading the blind.)
7 It is ill to swim against the current. (An uphill battle.)
8 Two dogs over one bone seldom agree. (To argue uselessly over a single point).
9 To hang one's cloak according to the wind. (To adapt one's viewpoint to the current opinion.)
10 To sit between two stools in the ashes. (To be indecisive.)