Pieter Bruegel the Elderl’s piece The Tower of Babel was certainly affected by the Reformation. Before the Renaissance and Reformation, religious art was inspired by the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church. Icons made up a lot of the art, and iconic representations of Christ, Mary and other saints were common. This changed greatly as a result of the Reformation. Because the Reformation focused on personal relationships with God and emphasized salvation through divine grace. As with Brugel’s The Tower of Babel, representations of Biblical stories were common. Additionally, this piece represents the Reformed dislike of arrogance and idolatry. Also, in the Biblical story, the Babylonians were building the tower to that they could reach the heavens to worship them. During the Reformation, it was emphasized that only God should be worshipped, and there was a wave of iconoclasm. The tower also resembles the Roman Colosseum, which the Reformers saw as a symbol of opulence and greed. And Bruegel probably painted it as a symbol of God punishing pride to reflect his feelings toward the Catholic church.
Bruegel painted this piece c. 1563, but I cannot seem to find where he painted it. It currently is at the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna. I like this piece because first, I find it visually pleasing. Although the tower is partially destroyed, it is beautifully represented in the painting. I also find it interesting that the scenario painted is so beautiful. The day is calm and bright, the water is beautiful. It seems like Bruegel was pleased with the destruction of the tower. In other representations of the Tower of Babel that I can think of has dark, menacing clouds and a very grey, dim look in general. And I find it so interesting that Bruegels is illustrated so beautifully.