Earthly Paradise with Original Sin

50.3 x 80.1 cm; oil on copper (FC 341)

The sacred episode, as in many Flemish works of the time, has been pushed into the background, while the variety of animals present in Eden dominate the foreground. The picture, signed and dated 1612, shows painstaking execution, and was almost certainly carried out with the aid of magnifying glasses: the many details are perfectly executed, taking the possibility offered by the smooth surface of the copper support to its extreme. Brueghel’s work was closely linked to the launch of still life painting, more or less contemporarily with that of landscape painting. Flemish painters played a very important role in this genre in Italy and Prince Camillo particularly appreciated their works. The Doria Pamphilj Gallery houses many paintings by this artist, who frequently included animals in his works. In particular, the motif of the two leopards was drawn from a work of about 1611 by his friend and colleague Rubens.