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Pieter Bruegel the Elder. The Dutch Proverbs. 1559. Gemäldegalerie. Berlin. 117 × 163 cm 









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Video : The Dutch Proverbs.






Pieter Bruegel the Elder. The Dutch Proverbs. 1559. Gemäldegalerie. Berlin. 117 × 163 cm 

Erasmus (1466 - 1536), Dutch, humanistic writer and scholar, publish Adages in 1500 in Paris: a collection of 818 Latin and Greek proverbs for the first edition, then 4151 in the final edition of 1533. The proverbs were borrowed from the authors Greek and Latin of Antiquity and Erasmus adds the parémiographes to it, of the Greek paroimia, “proverb” and graphein, “to write”, of the Middle Ages. Erasmus gives more or less developed explanations, always erudite, following each proverb and the translation, the source, the occurrences gives some, exposes some to the need stylistic operation, for example: Feasted slow: “ hastens slowly ” is an antithesis. It analyses the political, religious, philosophical implications while making emerge an expansion of quotations and sources. Such a company of compilation is understood only within the humanistic project of exhumation of the texts and of the ancient thought, it is by this double conviction that one can gather in the same work the dispersed fragments of the culture and universal knowledge and that one will draw the matter from it from a wisdom for the present. Following this publication Brueghel paints its painting : The Dutch Proverbs which illustrates between 85 or 120 proverbs. In the following page we will try to present to you the maximum of proverbs accompanied by their illustrations. 

1/ To equip her husband with a blue cape. To mislead her husband.

2/ To bind the devil to the cushion. Obstinacy overcomes everything.

3/ To be a pillar-biter. To be a religious hypocrite.

4/ To carry fire in one hand and water in the other. To be two-faced and to stir up trouble.

5/ To bang one's head against a brick wall. To try to achieve the impossible.
A shoe with a foot, and the other naked one. To keep balance.

6/ Shear them but do not skin them.
Do not press your advantage too far.

7/ One shears sheep, the other shears pigs. 
One has all the advantages, the other none.

8/ To be as gentle as a lamb. To be flexible.

9/ To cast roses before swine.
To waste effort on the unworthy. 

10/ To fill the well after the calf has already drowned. 
To take action only after a disaster.

11/ To have to stoop to get on in the world. 
To succeed one must be willing to make sacrifices.

12/ To have the world spinning on one's thumb. 
To have every advantage.

13/ To pull to get the longest end. 
To attempt to get the advantage. 

14/ He who has spilt his porridge cannot scrape it all up again. 
Once something is done it cannot be undone.

15/ Love is on the side where the money bag hangs.
Love can be bought.

16/ A hoe without a handle.
Something useless.

17/ To be barely able to reach from one loaf to another. 
To have difficulty living within budget.

18/ To look for the hatchet. To try to find an excuse.
Here he is with his lantern. To have an opportunity to show a talent. 
A hatchet with a handle. The whole thing.

19/ The herring does not fry here. It's not going according to plan.
To fry the whole herring for the sake of the roe. To do too much to achieve a little.

20/ To get the lid on the head. To end up taking responsibility.

21/ The herring hangs by its own gills. To accept responsibility for your own actions. 
There is more in it than an empty herring. There is more to it than meets the eye.
What can smoke do to iron ? There is no point in trying to change the unchangeable. 
To attach each herring by its own hearing. II is necessary to pay its own purse.

22/ The sow pulls the bung. Negligence will be rewarded with disaster.

23/ To bell the cat. To carry out a dangerous or impractical plan.

24/ To be armed to the teeth. To be heavily armed.
To put your armor on. To be angry.


25/ One winds on the distaff what the other spins. Both spread gossip.

Watch out that a black dog does not come in between. Mind that things don't go wrong.

26/ The pig is stabbed through the belly. A foregone conclusion or what is done can not be undone.

27/ Two dogs over one bone seldom agree. To argue over a single point.

28/ To tie a flaxen beard to the face of Christ. To hide deceit under a veneer of Christian piety.

29 To stand in one's own light. To behave contrarily to one's own happiness or advantage.

No one looks for others in the oven who has not been in there himself. To imagine wickedness in others is a sign of wickedness in oneself.

30/ To keep the hen's egg and let the goose's egg go. To make a bad decision.

31/ To yawn against the oven. To attempt more than one can manage. 

32/ To fall through the basket. To have your deception uncovered.

To be suspended between heaven and earth. To be in an awkward situation.

33/ To find the dog in the pot. To arrive too late for dinner and find all the food has been eaten.

34/ To sit between two stools in the ashes. To be indecisive. 

35 / The scissors hang out there. They are liable to cheat you there. 

36/ To always gnaw on a single bone. To continually talk about the same subject.

37/ To be a hen feeler. To depend on an uncertain outcome.

38/ To carry the day out in baskets. To waste one's time.

39/ To hold a candle to the Devil. To flatter and make friends indiscriminately.

40/ To confess to the Devil. To reveal secrets to one's enemy.

41/ To blow in the ear. To spread gossip.

42/ To put a spoke in someone's wheel. To put up an obstacle, to destroy someone's plans. 

43/ The Fox and the Stork dine together. Two deceivers always keep their own advantage in mind.

44/ What is the good of a beautiful plate when there is nothing on it ? Beauty does not make up for substance.

45/ Chalk up a debt. To owe someone a favour.

46/ The meat on the spit must be basted. Certain things need constant attention. 

47/ To be a skimming ladle. To be a parasite or sponger 

48/ To sit on hot coals. To be impatient.
There is no turning the spit with him . He is uncooperative.

49/ It depends on the fall of the cards. It is up to chance.

50/ Leave at least one egg in the nest. Always have something in reserve.

51/ To speak by two mouths. To be malicious gossip.

52/ Here hangs the pot. It is the opposite of what it should be.

53/ Sharks eat smaller fish. Anything people say will be put in perspective according to their level of importance. 

54/ To hold an eel by the tail. To undertake a difficult task. Catch a tiger by the tail.

55/ To be unable to see the sun shine on the water. To be jealous of another's success.

56/ The world is turned upside down. Everything is the opposite of what it should be.

57/ To crap on the world. To despise everything.

58/ Fools get the best cards. Luck can overcome intelligence.
The die is cast. The decision is made. 

59/ To lead each other by the nose. To fool each other 

60/ Eye for eye tooth for tooth.

61/ To be pissing against the moon. To waste one's time on a futile endeavour.

62/ To have toothache behind the ears. To be a malingerer.

63/ To shave the fool without lather. To trick somebody.

64/ To fish behind the net. To miss an opportunity.

65/ It is ill to swim against the current. It is difficult to oppose the general opinion. 

66/ The broadest straps are cut from someone else's leather. One is quick to another's money.

67/ To look through one's fingers. To turn a blind eye.

68/ There hangs the knife. To issue a challenge.

69/ There stand the wooden shoes. To wait in vain.

70/ To have a hole in one's roof. To be unintelligent.

71/ An old roof needs a lot of patching up. Old things need more maintenance. 

72/ The roof has lathes. There could be eavesdroppers. The walls have ears.

73/ To shoot a second bolt to find the first. To repeat a foolish action.

74/ Two fools under one hood. Stupidity loves company.

75 It grows out of the window. It cannot be concealed.

76/ To play on the pillory. To attract attention to one's shameful acts.

77/ To fall from the ox onto the rear end of an ass. To fall on hard times.

78/ To wipe one's backside on the door. To treat something lightly.

79/ One beggar pities the other standing in front of the door. Being afraid for competition.

80/ Anybody can see through an oak plank if there is a hole in it. There is no point in stating the obvious.

81/ It hangs like a privy over a ditch. It is obvious.

They both crap through the same hole. They are inseparable comrades. 

82/ To throw one's money into the water. To waste one's money.

83/ A wall with cracks will soon collapse. Anything poorly managed will soon fail.

84/ To throw one's cowl over the fence. To discard something without knowing whether it will be required later.

85/ To see bears dancing. To be starving.
Wild bears prefer each other's company. Peers get along better with each other than with outsiders.

86/ To stick out the broom. To have fun while the master is away.

87/ To marry under the broomstick. To live together without marrying. 

88/ To have the roof tiled with tarts. To be very wealthy.

89/ When the gate is open the pigs will run into the corn. Disaster ensues from carelessness.
When the corn decreases the pig increases. If one person gains then another must lose.

90/ To run like one's backside is on fire. To be in great distress.
He who eats fire, craps sparks. Do not be surprised at the outcome if you attempt a dangerous venture.

91/ To hang one's cloak according to the wind. To adapt one's viewpoint to the current opinion.

92/ To kiss the ring of the door. To be obsequious.

93/ To gaze at the stork. To waste one's time.

94/ À son plumage on reconnaît l'oiseau. 

95/ To toss feathers in the wind. To work fruitlessly.

96/ To try to kill two flies with one stroke. To be efficient. To kill two birds with one stone.

97/ To not care whose house is on fire as long as one can warm oneself at the blaze. To take every opportunity regardless of the consequences to others.

98/ To drag the block. To be deceived by a lover or to work at a pointless task.

99/ Horse droppings are not figs. Do not be fooled by appearances.

100/ Fear makes the old woman trot. An unexpected event can reveal unknown qualities.

101/ If the blind lead the blind both will fall in the ditch. There is no point in being guided by others who are equally ignorant.

102/ The journey is not yet over when one can discern the church and steeple. Do not give up until the task is fully complete.

103/ To keep one's eye on the sail To stay alert, be wary.

103/ To have the wheel in motion.

104/ Everything, however finely spun, finally comes to the sun. Nothing can be hidden forever.

105/ Who knows why geese go barefoot ? There is a reason for everything, though it may not be obvious. 
If I am not meant to be their keeper, I will let geese be geese. Do not interfere in matters that are not your concern.

106/ To crap on the gallows. To be undeterred by any penalty.

107/ Where the carcass is, there fly the crows. If there's something to be gained, everyone hurries in front.

Colours : Contrast between hot and cold colours.