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Ashida Tsubasa asked

Where on the website can I check whether the artwork is displayed or not in your museum?

Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen answered

Dear Ashida, On you will be able to look up specific objects from our collection. On each webpage devoted to an object you will find the subheading ‘specifications’. The fourth specification given is ‘location.’ This states whether an object is currently on display, travelling or in storage. The Tower of Babel is currently travelling, as is indicated on the website: Kind regards, Jephta

Filipe asked

First of all, the 'most famous painting of the museum' isn't included in the masterpiece route; secondly it's not in room 5 but 6, and finally the year is 1565 not 1568.

Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen answered

Dear Filipe, I have already sent you my response regarding your practical remarks. As for the date of the painting: The painting has not been dated. Nearly all Bruegel experts date the work late (based also on the similarities with the painting 'Die Elster auf dem Galgen' in Darmstadt, dated in 1568. So that's why we have chosen to keep with c. 1568. Best, Rianne Schoonderbeek and Friso Lammertse

Ashida Tsubasa asked

Where on the website can I check whether the artwork is displayed or not in your museum?

Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen answered

Hi Ashida, when a work is on display you can tell by the label on the side of the image, with the text 'Now on display'. Right now, the Tower of Babel is not on display in Rotterdam, but is on view in Tokyo as part of an exhibition displaying the museum's highlights of 15th- and 16th-century Dutch masters. All the best, Rianne

Tim Mak asked

On the left side of Bruegel's Tower, why is there a "red strip" and a "white strip" from the ground to almost the top?

Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen answered

Dear Tim, Well-spotted! If you look carefully, the upper part of the tower is of a brighter red colour than the bottom part. Since the bricks in the lower parts of the tower have sat there for a longer time, they are more corroded and weathered. The red vertical strip you described indicates the transport of new red bricks to the top of the tower. The white vertical strip you furthermore mentioned is indicative of the transport of limestone. Cheers, Frederieke

Marie asked

Hello! I am writing a paper for my Art History class, and I chose to analyse Pieter Bruegel's The Tower of Babel. Unfortunately, I cannot find any relevant information about the patronage of this art work. If you told me who was the patron for this painting (if there was one), it would help me a lot! Thanks in advance.

Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen answered

Dear Marie, Unfortunately, it is unknown whether the painting was commissioned by anyone. According to Karel van Mander’s accounts, the painting was part of the collection of Rudolf II of Prague at the beginning of the seventeenth century, together with the larger version of this painting. Best, Frederieke


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A closer look at the painting in the living room of Mr. Van Beuningen
Mr. Van Beuningen in front of his painting
The painting in the living room of Mr. Van Beuningen

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In this famous painting Bruegel depicts the biblical story of man's hubris and their desire to build a tower that reached to the heavens. God punished them with a Babelonian confusion of tongues. Countless people are flocking around the structure, which reaches to the clouds. Breugel took inspiration for the architecture of his tower from the Colosseum in Rome. In the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna is another painting by Bruegel with the same subject.


Title The Tower of Babel
Material and technique Oil on panel
Object type Painting
Location This object is on view in room 32
Dimensions (general) Width : 74,6 cm
Height : 59,9 cm
Makers Painter: Pieter Bruegel (I)
Accession number 2443 (OK)
Credits Verworven met de verzameling van / Acquired with the collection of: D.G. van Beuningen 1958
Department Old Masters
Acquisition date 1958
Age maker Between 37 and 43 years old
Collector Collector / D.G. van Beuningen
Exhibitions Van Eyck tot Bruegel (1994)
De collectie als tijdmachine (2017)
BABEL - Oude meesters terug uit Japan / Old Masters Back from Japan (2018)
The Collection Enriched (2011)
External exhibitions Bruegel, een dynastie van schilders (1980)
Nederlandsche Kunst van de XVde en XVIde eeuw (1945)
Collection of Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen – Bruegel’s ‘The Tower of Babel’ and Great 16th Century Masters (2017)
Material Panel > Worked wood > Wood > Vegetable material > Organic material > Material > Material and technique
Oil > Paint > Artist's material > Material > Material and technique
Object Painting > Painting > Two-dimensional object > Art object
Geographical origin Southern Netherlands > The Netherlands > Western Europe > Europe

All about the maker

Pieter Bruegel (I)

Brueghel circa 1526/1530 - Brussel 1569

Pieter Bruegel was born around 1525, probably in or near Breda. From 1551 he worked in Antwerp, at the time one of the most important cities in Western Europe. ..