The Beggars

The Beggars or The Cripples is an oil-on-panel by the Netherlandish Renaissance artist Pieter Bruegel the Elder, painted in 1568. It is now in the Louvre in Paris.

The Beggars (The Cripples)
Pieter Bruegel the Elder - The Cripples
ArtistPieter Bruegel the Elder
TypeOil on panel
Dimensions18.5 cm × 21.5 cm (7.3 in × 8.5 in)
LocationLouvre, Paris


This work is the only painting by Bruegel in the Louvre, received as a gift in 1892.

Attempts have been made to interpret the picture of five cripples and a beggar-woman as an allusion to a historical event: the badger's tails, or foxes' tails, on their clothes might refer to the Gueux, a rebel party formed against the government of Philip II of Spain and Granvelle; but these also occur in Bruegel's The Fight Between Carnival and Lent in Vienna, dated 1559. Still, the beggars are not quite ordinary beggars, as they wear carnival headgear representing various classes of society: a cardboard crown (the king), a paper shako (the soldier), a beret (the bourgeois), a cap (the peasant), and a mitre (the bishop). The work clearly has some satirical meaning, which has so far eluded interpretation. Perhaps physical imperfections are meant to symbolise moral decrepitude, which can affect all men irrespective of class.[1]

On the back of the painting are two inscriptions which seem to date from the 16th century. One is in Flemish, and in a very fragmentary state;[2] the other is in Latin and records the admiration some humanist felt for Bruegel, whose art surpasses Nature itself.[3]

The painting dates from the end of Bruegel's career, when he showed a keener interest in the natural world. Tiny though it is, the landscape seen through the opening is bathed in a delicate light which simmers like dew on the foliage.


On the back of the painting is written:[4]

What nature lacks, is lacking in our art,
So great was the grace accorded to our painter.
Here nature, expressed in painted forms, is astonished
To see through these cripples that Bruegel is her equal.


Modern eyes may be inclined to conclude that Brugel intended to invoke sympathy for the plight of the crippled figures, but from a historical perspective this is unlikely. Europeans of Bruegel's time gave little regard to beggars, and the painting provides hints that Bruegel shared this denigration: the figures are outside the town walls and are posed in such ways as to provoke contempt and amusement. The foxtail on some of the figures was a symbol at the time of ridicule in political caricature and real life. The woman behind them bears an empty bowl and may appear to be ignoring the beggars.[5]


  1. ^ V. Barker, Pieter Bruegel the elder: A study of his paintings, Arts Publishing Corp. (1926); see also W. S. Gibson, Bruegel, Thames & Hudson Ltd (1977).
  2. ^ Reconstructed by the Louvre as "Cripples, take heart, and may your affairs prosper.", cf. Louvre webpage
  3. ^ R. H. Marijnissen, Bruegel, tout l'oeuvre peint et dessiné, Éditions Albin Michel (1988), pp. 354-358 (in French)
  4. ^ Richardson 2011, p. 61.
  5. ^ Bonn 2006, p. 111.

Works cited

  • Bonn, Robert L. (2006). Painting Life: The Art of Pieter Bruegel, the Elder. Robert Bonn. ISBN 978-1-884092-12-1.
  • Richardson, Todd M. (2011). Pieter Bruegel the Elder: Art Discourse in the Sixteenth-century Netherlands. Ashgate Publishing. ISBN 978-0-7546-6816-9.

External links


4AD is a British independent record label, founded by Ivo Watts-Russell and Peter Kent in 1980. It was originally funded by, and an imprint of, Beggars Banquet.The label gained prominence in the 1980s for releasing albums from alternative rock, post-punk, gothic rock and dream pop artists, such as Bauhaus, Cocteau Twins, Modern English, Dead Can Dance, Clan of Xymox, Pixies, Throwing Muses and Watts-Russell's own musical project This Mortal Coil. In 1987, the label scored an international hit with the dance music single "Pump Up the Volume" by the one-off project M/A/R/R/S. 4AD continued to have success in the 1990s and 2000s with releases from The Breeders, Lush, Red House Painters, Camera Obscura, TV on the Radio, St. Vincent and Bon Iver. The label's current roster includes acts such as The National, Beirut, Daughter, Deerhunter, Grimes, Purity Ring and Future Islands.4AD now forms part of the Beggars Group, along with fellow independent labels Matador, Rough Trade, XL and XL imprint Young Turks. The label's history has been detailed by Martin Aston in the biography Facing The Other Way, released in 2013.

Banquet Records

Banquet Records became fully independent in 2002, formerly part of the Beggars Banquet Records retail chain. The record shop is based in Kingston upon Thames, Greater London. It stocks a broad range of music on both vinyl and CD. The establishment is also home to Gravity DIP music management, as well as the Banquet Records record label.

Beggars' Bush

Beggars' Bush is a Jacobean era stage play, a comedy in the canon of John Fletcher and his collaborators that is a focus of dispute among scholars and critics.

Beggars' Sect

The Beggars' Sect is a fictional martial arts sect featured prominently in works of wuxia fiction by writers such as Jin Yong, Gu Long and Wolong Sheng. The sect has also found its way into martial arts films such as King of Beggars. The sect's members are mostly beggars as its name suggests, but some of them are from other walks of life. They are noticeable in public for their dress code and behaviour. The members adhere to a strict code of conduct and maintain the utmost respect for ranks and hierarchy. They uphold justice and help those in need through acts of chivalry. The Beggars' Sect is also one of the supporting pillars in the defence of Han Chinese society from foreign invaders. The sect has a wide network of communications and the members are reputed for their excellent information gathering skills. This is due to the sect's large size and the nature of its members, which allows them to blend into different parts of society easily.

Beggars Banquet Records

Beggars Banquet is a British independent record label that began as a chain of record shops owned by Martin Mills and Nick Austin, and is part of the Beggars Group of labels.

Beggars Group

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Beta Epsilon Gamma Gamma Alpha Rho Sigma

Beta Epsilon Gamma Gamma Alpha Rho Sigma (ΒΕΓΓΑΡΣ), established December 20, 1923, is the oldest Jesuit fraternity in the United States. The Beggars Fraternity of Loyola University New Orleans is the first social fraternity at a Jesuit university.


A droll is a short comical sketch of a type that originated during the Puritan Interregnum in England. With the closure of the theatres, actors were left without any way of plying their art. Borrowing scenes from well-known plays of the Elizabethan theatre, they added dancing and other entertainments and performed these, sometimes illegally, to make money. Along with the popularity of the source play, material for drolls was generally chosen for physical humor or for wit.

Francis Kirkman's The Wits, or Sport Upon Sport, 1662, is a collection of twenty-seven drolls. Three are adapted from Shakespeare: Bottom the Weaver from A Midsummer Night's Dream, the gravedigger's scene from Hamlet, and a collection of scenes involving Falstaff called The Bouncing Knight. A typical droll presented a subplot from John Marston's The Dutch Courtesan; the piece runs together all the scenes in which a greedy vintner is gulled and robbed by a deranged gallant.

Just under half of the drolls in Kirkman's book are adapted from the work of Beaumont and Fletcher. Among the drolls taken from those authors are Forc'd Valour (the title plot from The Humorous Lieutenant), The Stallion (the scenes in the male brothel from The Custom of the Country), and the taunting of Pharamond from Philaster. The prominence of Beaumont and Fletcher in this collection prefigures their dominance on the early Restoration stage. The extract from their Beggar's Bush, known as The Lame Commonwealth, features additional dialogue, strongly suggesting it was taken from a performance text. The character of Clause, the King of the Beggars in that extract, appears as a character in later works, such as the memoirs of Bampfylde Moore Carew, the self-proclaimed King of the Beggars.

Actor Robert Cox was perhaps the best-known of the droll performers.

Emmett Toppino

Martin Emmett Toppino (July 1, 1909 – September 8, 1971) was an American athlete, winner of a gold medal in the 4 × 100 m relay at the 1932 Summer Olympics.At the Los Angeles Olympics, Emmett Toppino from New Orleans ran the second leg in the American 4 × 100 m relay team, which won the gold medal with a new world record of 40.0.He was a member of the track and field team for the Loyola Wolf Pack and was a member of the Beggars Fraternity at Loyola University New Orleans.

Emmett Toppino died in New Orleans in 1971, aged 62.

Exhibition (album)

Exhibition (1987) is a double disc compilation album of Gary Numan's hits and selected other tracks released on the Beggars Banquet Records label. The songs cover Numan's career from 1978 (with Tubeway Army) to 1983.

It was released by Beggars Banquet Records in September 1987 as an LP, cassette and, with an expanded track listing, double CD.

The album peaked at #43 in the UK Album Chart. A remix of Numan's 1979 single "Cars", entitled "Cars ('E' Reg Model)" was released to promote the album and peaked at #16.

Flávio Migliaccio

Flávio Migliaccio (born 15 October 1934) is a Brazilian actor, film director and screenwriter. He has appeared in more than 80 films and television shows since 1958. His 1962 film The Beggars was entered into the 3rd Moscow International Film Festival. His elder sister Dirce Migliaccio was also an actress.


Geuzen (Dutch pronunciation: [ˈɣøːzə(n)]; French: Les Gueux, English: the Beggars) was a name assumed by the confederacy of Calvinist Dutch nobles, who from 1566 opposed Spanish rule in the Netherlands. The most successful group of them operated at sea, and so were called Watergeuzen (Dutch pronunciation: [ˈʋaːtərɣøːzə(n)]; French: Gueux de mer, English: Sea Beggars). In the Eighty Years' War, the Capture of Brielle by the Watergeuzen in 1572 provided the first foothold on land for the rebels, who would conquer the northern Netherlands and establish an independent Dutch Republic. They can be considered either as privateers or pirates, depending on the circumstances or motivations.

Hong Qigong

Hong Qi, better known as Hong Qigong, is a fictional character in the wuxia novel The Legend of the Condor Heroes and its sequel, The Return of the Condor Heroes, by Jin Yong. Best known for his most powerful martial arts (the 'Eighteen Dragon-Subduing Palms' and the 'Dog Beating Staff Technique'), Hong Qigong is the chief of the Beggars' Sect and the "Northern Beggar" of the Five Greats. He is nicknamed "Nine Fingered Divine Beggar" after he severs one of his fingers to remind himself to be more time conscious as he has once failed a mission after overindulgence in fine cuisine. He plays a supporting role in the first novel by imparting his skills to Guo Jing and Huang Rong. Huang Rong succeeds him as the Beggars' Sect's chief. Although he appears as a happy-go-lucky old beggar who idles his time away, he actually uses his skills to help those in need and perform chivalrous deeds.

Hostess Entertainment

Hostess Incorporated (ホステス株式会社, Hosutesu Kabushiki Gaisha), DBA Hostess Entertainment (ホステス・エンタテインメント, Hosutesu Entateinmento) Unlimited, is a Japanese independent music company, representing Western alternative artists and labels in Japan, such as the Beggars Group (4AD/XL/Matador/Rough Trade), Domino Records, V2 Records, Brassland and PIAS UK Distribution. Artists signed to Hostess include Adele, Radiohead, Arctic Monkeys, Warpaint, Mogwai, Theme Park, The xx, Bon Iver and Vampire Weekend. It was founded in 2000 by Andrew "Plug" Lazonby, an alumnus of Royal College of Music.

Lucy Caldwell

Lucy Caldwell (born 1981) is a Northern Irish playwright and novelist.

Mo' Wax

Mo' Wax was a UK-based record label owned by James Lavelle, who founded it in 1992 with Tim Goldsworthy. Steve Finan became co-owner shortly after. The label came to recognition for being at the forefront of trip hop, turntablism and alternative hip hop during the mid-1990s. The label is also responsible for bringing attention to the graffiti artist Futura 2000 by using his artwork on many of its releases in the early to mid-1990s. Lavelle ended up signing partial ownership of Mo' Wax over to A&M Records (now part of the Universal Music Group) in 1996. Currently, some of the Mo' Wax catalogue is part of the Beggars Group, but there are rumors that the label itself has folded and is no longer putting out new releases.

The name 'Mo' Wax' is a shortened form of 'Mo' Wax Please', which was the title of a column James Lavelle wrote in the magazine Straight No Chaser and the club night he ran (Saturdays at the Fridge in Brixton and with Patrick Forge at the Gardening Club). This in turn was influenced by the Freddie Roach LP, Mo' Greens Please on Blue Note records.

The original Mo' Wax logo as used on the early releases was designed by UK graphic designer Ian Swift "Swifty", but the label grew their reputation by featuring artwork contributions from Futura, Robert Del Naja (from Massive Attack), She One and Req 1. Ben Drury was the main designer responsible for the art direction and design of the label.

In 2005, Lavelle started a clothing line called Surrender, and launched Mo' Wax Arts.

Mo' Wax Arts is a company managed by Henry Lavelle (James' brother), who translated Futura's talent into merchandise, toys and fashion in conjunction with the Surrender label. Henry Lavelle presented Futura's works under Mo' Wax Arts in an international design conference.In 2014 the label held an exhibition titled "Urban Archaeology: 21 years of Mo wax".In 2015 James Lavelle brought back the Mo'Wax label to Release Elliott Power's Murmur single as a limited edition hand stamped 12" vinyl. On 26 February 2016 Elliott Power's debut album Once Smitten was released on Mo'Wax in collaboration with Marathon Artists.

New Oscott

New Oscott is an area of Birmingham, England.

It was named after the Oscott area of Birmingham, when St. Mary's College, the Roman Catholic seminary, moved from that site to the new one. The original then became known as Old Oscott.

The only pub in New Oscott is the Beggars Bush. Recently a new north eastern Himalayan, Nepalese/Gurkha restaurant is opened at 11 Kings Road, B73 5AB. The area also hosts the Princess Alice Retail Park and adjacent Tesco Extra superstore.

Princess Alice Retail Park was the site of a large and well known children's home from the late 19th century. When the site was sold for redevelopment in the 1980s the home was demolished leaving Brampton Hall which was a Community Centre serving the local area.Brampton Hall offered a range of classes and interest groups to the community and was a popular venue for parties and children's birthday parties. In recent years, this hall got knocked down and turned into a fast food chain, KFC.

The area near The Beggars Bush used to be home to a traffic island which was removed and a new double traffic light system was put into place.

The name Beggar's Bush derives from a thorn bush that was located in the middle of the Chester Road and was encircled by iron railings. At an unknown date, it is said that a beggar died after sheltering under the bush, and as the bush marked the boundary of the parish, there was debate over who should pay for the burial of the man. The bush was destroyed by road workers in the mid-1930s to the disapproval of locals.

The Beggar's Opera

The Beggar's Opera is a ballad opera in three acts written in 1728 by John Gay with music arranged by Johann Christoph Pepusch. It is one of the watershed plays in Augustan drama and is the only example of the once thriving genre of satirical ballad opera to remain popular today. Ballad operas were satiric musical plays that used some of the conventions of opera, but without recitative. The lyrics of the airs in the piece are set to popular broadsheet ballads, opera arias, church hymns and folk tunes of the time.

The Beggar's Opera premiered at the Lincoln's Inn Fields Theatre on 29 January 1728 and ran for 62 consecutive performances, the second longest run in theatre history up to that time (after 146 performances of Robert Cambert's Pomone in Paris in 1671). The work became Gay's greatest success and has been played ever since; it has been called "the most popular play of the eighteenth century." In 1920, The Beggar's Opera began a revival run of 1,463 performances at the Lyric Theatre in Hammersmith, London, which was one of the longest runs in history for any piece of musical theatre at that time.The piece satirised Italian opera, which had become popular in London. According to The New York Times: "Gay wrote the work more as an anti-opera than an opera, one of its attractions to its 18th-century London public being its lampooning of the Italian opera style and the English public's fascination with it." Instead of the grand music and themes of opera, the work uses familiar tunes and characters that were ordinary people. Some of the songs were by opera composers like Handel, but only the most popular of these were used. The audience could hum along with the music and identify with the characters. The story satirised politics, poverty and injustice, focusing on the theme of corruption at all levels of society. Lavinia Fenton, the first Polly Peachum, became an overnight success. Her pictures were in great demand, verses were written to her and books published about her. After appearing in several comedies, and then in numerous repetitions of The Beggars Opera, she ran away with her married lover, Charles Powlett, 3rd Duke of Bolton.

Elisabeth Hauptmann (with Bertolt Brecht) and Kurt Weill adapted the opera into Die Dreigroschenoper (The Threepenny Opera) in 1928, sticking closely to the original plot and characters but with a new libretto and mostly new music.

XL Recordings

XL Recordings is a British independent record label founded in 1989 by Tim Palmer and Nick Halkes; it is run and co-owned by Richard Russell since 1996. It forms part of the Beggars Group.

Although only releasing an average of six albums a year, XL has worked with Adele, Arca, Azealia Banks, Beck, Dizzee Rascal, Electric Six, FKA twigs, M.I.A., Gil Scott-Heron, Jungle, Giggs, Gotan Project, The Horrors, Jai Paul, King Krule, Nines, The Prodigy, Peaches, Radiohead, Sampha, SBTRKT, Sigur Rós, Tyler, the Creator, Vampire Weekend, The White Stripes, and The xx. The label releases albums worldwide and operates across a range of genres.


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