I saw this book on sale in Vienna and decided not to lug a copy home but to return home and buy it online. This was an excellent tactic, as the lower price also meant I am not too bothered about the almost unreadable text. The illustrations are superb, particularly the detailed studies.The editorial is a difficult read, and is the sort that makes a cynic wonder whether art historians ever listen to themselves. I have been studying Bruegel's paintings most of my adult life (I'm now a retired academic) and I found the text heavy going. Sentences are often far too long, with too many asides that detract rather than support any line of argument being presented. I had expected a far more analytical approach to the collection and its various elements, but this is too biographical and too 'nerdy': art history for anoraks. The opening sets the tone by its high regard for matters of provenance, which I would be happy to see left to an appendix, but which so many galleries present as a self-validating fetish. I have read far more interesting studies of these paintings in books dealing with his works as a whole. So - disappointing for what it has to say, while the illustrations are fabulous. Nothing though equals seeing the originals, though I doubt I will ever look at them in quite the same way again having studied these illustrations.
This is a must-buy if you want to inspect the detail of breugel's paintings - superb technical photography and reproduction in the book. The editorial is a difficult read, however. I imagine its in translation and could be better. Sentences are really long, and difficult to follow. The biggest problem is that no-where is the reader taken through the paintings in any analytical way.
I would like to appreciate this publication very much. It is not easy to cover such a wide range of messages the painter provided with further generations. I am convinced,comparing dozens of the publications dedicated to the exceptional and eminent Bruegel I could read and study, this book is one of the best. I can recommend it profoundly indeed. Zdenek Vasek