1568. Oil on panel. Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, Austria. Read Note.
The Peasant and the Birdnester is thought to illustrate a Flemish proverb: “He who knows where the nest is, has the knowledge; he who robs it, has the nest”. The painting presents a moralizing contrast between the active, wicked individual and the passive man who is virtuous in spite of adversity. It has been suggested that, with his knowledge of Italian art, Bruegel intended the peasant’s gesture as a profane parody of the gesture of Leonardo’s St. John the Baptist.