When I first looked at Adriaen Brouwer’s “Peasant Brawl”, my eyes were immediately drawn to the man in the center of the painting wearing a dark green hat. This green color stood out among the various reds and oranges featured around the man. In addition to the artist’s use of color, I was also drawn to this man because the people on each side of him are angling their bodies toward him. Their angled positions create a triangle-like effect making the green hat the top point of the triangle. Next, the man’s turned head drew my attention to the left-hand side of the painting. After seeing the chaotic fight among these figures, the light blue sky in the background caught my attention. This beautiful background is in stark contrast to the busy commotion occurring in the front of the painting.
Overall, Brouwer uses the green hat as a point of reference for the surrounding painting. With the hat as a reference point, my eyes were drawn in a clockwise direction. Brusati remarks on this way of viewing the painting: “[…] the eye’s field of view is spherical and for that reason any set of points equidistant from the eye will not lie on a straight line but rather will form the arc of a circle whose centre corresponds to the eye” (Brusati 916). Through the use of color, Brouwer enhances this center point. For example, the stark light blue sky in the background funnels down in a cone-like shape directed toward the top of the hat.
Along with a center point of reference, Brouwer utilized two points of perspective. The most prominent point of perspective is the whimsical building fading into the sky. This point of perspective gave me a sense of peace that is lacking from the frantic nature of the painting. The second point of perspective is the dark doorway on the left side of the painting. Ultimately, the points of perspective allowed me to transition from chaos to serenity. Perhaps Brouwer is implying that beyond the hustle and bustle of common life there is peace?
Adriaen Brouwer, Peasant Brawl, 1620-1630