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The Tower of Babel

Ask anything

  • ananian asked

    Is Titus at his desk visible in Depot next year (2024)

  • Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen answered

    Hi Ananian,

    Both the Tower of Babel by Bruegel and Titus at his Desk by Rembrandt will be back to the depot in mid-January 2024 from the Rijksmuseum. However, it is not always on view there. Be sure to check the website under programme to check if it's on view within one of the galeries in advance.

    Thank you for your question.

    Best, Mara

  • Natalie asked

    I would like to ask, when the “Tower of Babel” will be back from travelling and where it is on dispose now. Also I would like to ask, what does it mean “in depot” since I would like to see the Carel Fabritius Selfportrait. Ist it possible to see it in permanent exhibition, if there is a sign “in depot” on your Website?

  • Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen answered

    Dear Natalie, the Tower of Babel is on show in the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, as part of the exhibition 'Best of Boijmans'. You can see it there until Januari 14th 2024. The Carel Fabritius portrait is on show in Depot Boijmans Van Beuningen. You can see it hanging in showcase no. 4, I think between floor 1 and 2. From the middel of March many highlights form the collection will be exhibitied in the Depot, in the big exhibition space on the fifth floor, so you don't have to miss your favourite works, when you are in Rotterdam. Kind regards, Els

  • Silvia Stumpf asked

    Is it possible to request a highresolution picture of The tower of Babel, Pieter Bruegel(I)? I would like to use it commercially
    Kindly regards
    Silvia Stumpf

  • Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen answered

    Dear Silvia,

    Here is a link explaining the process of image requests at the museum: https://www.boijmans.nl/en/image-requests or you can reach out to my colleague via images@boijmans.nl


  • Michael Stern asked

    Is "The Tower of Babel" by Breugel (I) currently on display? Thank you.

  • Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen answered

    Hi Michael, Yes, the painting is part of the Highlights presentation, on the 3rd floor of our public accessibele depot (A3.08). You can see the front and the back of the painting, because it is presented on a glass easel. I hope you wil enjoy your visit! Kind regards, Els

  • Luke asked

    Dear Van Beuningen Museum,
    Hi, I am writing a dissertation paper about <The Tower of Babel>, and I'd like to know if there is a list of references of books and articles, in which <The Tower of Babel> in Rotterdam is dealt with. If so, can I get the list please? It would be so much helpful for my investigation. Thank you!

  • Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen answered

    Hi Luke, you can search in our online library catalogus (Adlib Internet Server 3.1.2 (boijmans.nl)). Please use 'Deskundig zoeken' and choose in the upper box for: Zoek in : Objectgebonden literatuur. In the second search field you have to choose 'Objectnummer'. Please fill in 2443. When you have done this and click 'Search' you will find alle literature linked by us to Bruegel's Tower of Babel. Good luck! Els

  • Tess asked

    Does this work have a provenance documented that includes the Kunstkammer of Rudolph II or Christina of Sweden?

  • Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen answered

    Dear Tess, Yes, it does indeed. The first known owner of this painting was Rudolph II von Habsburg. Thereafter, it possibly was in the collection of Christina, Queen of Sweden. Kind regards, Els

  • Seungwoo Lee asked

    Hi ! Can I get the information about the whole provenance of <The Tower of Babel> ? And also I'd like to know if this painting had been ordered. If so, who ordered this painting ?
    Thank you !

  • Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen answered

    Dear Lee, Thank you for your questions. Pieter Bruegel painted 3 versions of this subject; one (big) version is in the Kunsthistorische Museum in Vienna, the other has been lost. It is likely that at least one of the paintings was made on commission. The provenance of this (smaller) version goes back to Rudolf II von Habsburg (1552-1612). Then the painting might have been in the possession of Christina, Queen of Sweden and a person named J.B. Van den Branden. This is not 100% sure. Then Elisabetta Maria Farnese (1692-1766) owned it, followed by Infante Don Luis de Bourbon (1727-1785). the next owner is not known, whereafter the painting ended up on the art market (art dealer E. Jonas & F. Kleinberger and art dealer N. Beets & P. Cassirer. The latter sold the painting to the Rotterdam businessman D.G. Van Beuningen. Together with the rest of his collection, it came into the museum in 1958. I hope this is helpful. Kind regards, Els

  • Lee asked

    Hi ! I'm going to Rotterdam to see <The Tower of Babel> this coming January. The museum should still be closed, so I'd like to know if I can see <The Tower of Babel> at Depot Boijmans Van Beuningen in January. Thank you!

  • Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen answered

    Hello Lee, yes, you will be lucky to see 'The Tower of Babel' in the gallery on the third floor of Depot Boijmans Van Beuningen - which is our new, spectacular storage facility and accessible to the public. The presentation is called 'Highlights' and, very special, you will not only be able to see the front of the painting, but also its backside, since the painting is hanging on a glass panel. The backside has marks and stickers which tell you about its history. Don't forget to book tickets on the website (https://www.boijmans.nl/en/tickets) and to download the Depot app from the App Store before your visit. With the app you will have lots of extra information and stories about the artworks. Have fun! Els

  • john isaacs asked

    Dear Van Beuningen Museum , I am an artist living and working in Verlin and we are producing a monograph about my work, one of which references the Tower of Babel. We would like to publish a copy of the Pieter Bruegel painting in the book. Please let me know if we have your permission and where we could find a high resolution image of this painting.
    John Isaacs

  • Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen answered

    Dear John, Pieter Bruegel died longer than 70 years ago, so you can reproduce the painting without any problems about copyright. For a hi res image, please contact: images@boijmas.nl
    You can find all information on our website: https://www.boijmans.nl/en/image-requests
    Good luck with you work and your book! Kind regards, Els

  • Emanuel asked

    Hi is museum close? Where can i see the Brueghel babel tower ?

  • Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen answered

    Dear Emanuel, the museum is indeed closed for renovations. If the paining by Breugel isn't on loan to a different institution, it will be on view in the Depot (which opens this november). Be mindful however that this isn't a museum and the painting won't be exhibited as such and might not always will be visible. Best, Lisa Heinis

  • Karen Blackall asked

    I would like to include an image of Bruegel's Little Tower of Babel in a dissertation I am writing as a Doctor of Musical Arts candidate at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. This is for educational use only. What permission do I need, or is this fair use?

    Karen Blackall

  • Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen answered

    Dear Karen, Since the artist died over 75 years ago you can use the image freely. It will be appreciated though that you mention the name of the photographer. Please contact images@boijmans.nl
    Kind regards, Els

  • Jiaying asked

    Dear sir and madam,
    I would like to know if the picture of artworks on your website is in public domain. I am wondering about using the tower of babel in my book which is to be published.
    Thanks in advance.

  • Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen answered

    Dear Jiaying,
    For request regarding images you can send an email to images@boijmans.nl
    Kind regards, Sofie

  • Seiji Nakahata asked

    I'm going to Rotterdam to see "The Tower of Babel" this coming August. The museum should be closed, so I'd like to know where I can see The Tower of Babel during August.

  • Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen answered

    Dear Seiji, Unfortunately this painting will not be on view in August, it will be in storage because of the current renovation of the museum. Sorry for the disappointing message! Greetings, Sarie.

  • Tim asked

    Hi! Is it possible to see "The Tower of Babel", if I come within the next weeks to Rotterdam? Or is there even something like a timetable, when its on loan to another museum? Thanks in advance!

  • Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen answered

    UPDATE: WILL BE ON VIEW 22 MARCH - 18 JULY 2021 @ THE NATIONAL GALLERY, LONDON --- Hi Tim, unfortunately within the next weeks you won't be able to see this artwork. We expect the work to start travelling by October, possibly also internationally, but this is not completely certain yet. If you want to keep up to date, it might be easiest to subscribe to our newsletter? I will also try to remember to send you an update when we know more. Best, Rianne

  • Jill Brownbill asked

    Will the Breughel Tower of Babel be on display in Rotterdam when the Museum Boijmans Van Beuninghen is closed for renovation?

  • Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen answered

    Hi Jill, we don't know yet exactly, but it might not always be on display. You can check its webpage in Boijmans collection online. In specifications you can always find the up to date location of the painting. Best, Xin

  • E.O. asked

    Could you tell me when will it be on display again?

  • Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen answered

    Hi E.O., The Tower of Babel will be on display from February 9 - May 26, 2019 in our new presentation 'When the Shutters Close'. Will you come and visit us to see it? best, Sophie

  • YukoF asked

    I’m Yuko.
    I’ll visit your museum in the middle of April,and I’d like to The Tower of Babel.
    Can I see it in the middle of April??
    Or could you tell me when I can see it ?


  • Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen answered

    Dear Yuko,
    You can see The Tower of Babel in our exhibition ‘When the Panels are Closed’, from 9 february until 26 may 2019. Enjoy your visit in April!
    Kind regards,

  • Takashi asked

    Thanks for your kind reply! One more question, "When" The Tower of Babel will come
    back and on display in your museum?

  • Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen answered

    Hi Takashi, the Tower of Babel will be back on display in our museum from the middel of February 2019. Will you come and see it? best, Sophie

  • Takashi asked

    Hi, Could you advise where can we watch "The Tower of Babel" now (= on NOV-DEC 2018) ?

  • Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen answered

    Dear Takashi,
    You can see The Tower of Babel in the ‘Kunsthistorisches Museum’ in Vienna, Austria, until 13 january 2019.
    Kind regards,

  • Masa asked

    Hi, when The Tower of Babel will came back and on display? How about during April to October in 2019?

  • Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen answered

    Dear Masa,
    The Tower of Babel is currently on loan to Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna, it will be on display there until January 13, 2019.

    Kind regards,

  • Marie asked

    Hello! I am writing a paper for my Art History class, and I chose to analyse Pieter Bruegel's The Tower of Babel. Unfortunately, I cannot find any relevant information about the patronage of this art work. If you told me who was the patron for this painting (if there was one), it would help me a lot! Thanks in advance.

  • Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen answered

    Dear Marie,
    Unfortunately, it is unknown whether the painting was commissioned by anyone. According to Karel van Mander’s accounts, the painting was part of the collection of Rudolf II of Prague at the beginning of the seventeenth century, together with the larger version of this painting.

  • Tim Mak asked

    On the left side of Bruegel's Tower, why is there a "red strip" and a "white strip" from the ground to almost the top?

  • Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen answered

    Dear Tim,

    Well-spotted! If you look carefully, the upper part of the tower is of a brighter red colour than the bottom part. Since the bricks in the lower parts of the tower have sat there for a longer time, they are more corroded and weathered. The red vertical strip you described indicates the transport of new red bricks to the top of the tower. The white vertical strip you furthermore mentioned is indicative of the transport of limestone.


  • Ashida Tsubasa asked

    Where on the website can I check whether the artwork is displayed or not in your museum?

  • Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen answered

    Hi Ashida, when a work is on display you can tell by the label on the side of the image, with the text 'Now on display'. Right now, the Tower of Babel is not on display in Rotterdam, but is on view in Tokyo as part of an exhibition displaying the museum's highlights of 15th- and 16th-century Dutch masters. All the best, Rianne

  • Filipe asked

    First of all, the 'most famous painting of the museum' isn't included in the masterpiece route; secondly it's not in room 5 but 6, and finally the year is 1565 not 1568.

  • Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen answered

    Dear Filipe, I have already sent you my response regarding your practical remarks. As for the date of the painting: The painting has not been dated. Nearly all Bruegel experts date the work late (based also on the similarities with the painting 'Die Elster auf dem Galgen' in Darmstadt, dated in 1568. So that's why we have chosen to keep with c. 1568. Best, Rianne Schoonderbeek and Friso Lammertse

  • Ashida Tsubasa asked

    Where on the website can I check whether the artwork is displayed or not in your museum?

  • Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen answered

    Dear Ashida,
    On http://collectie.boijmans.nl/en you will be able to look up specific objects from our collection. On each webpage devoted to an object you will find the subheading ‘specifications’. The fourth specification given is ‘location.’ This states whether an object is currently on display, travelling or in storage. The Tower of Babel is currently travelling, as is indicated on the website: http://collectie.boijmans.nl/en/object/3723.
    Kind regards,


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More information
  • Details

In this famous painting Bruegel depicts the biblical story of man's hubris and their desire to build a tower that reached to the heavens. God punished them with a Babelonian confusion of tongues. Countless people are flocking around the structure, which reaches
to the clouds. Breugel took inspiration for the architecture of his tower from the Colosseum in Rome. In the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna is another painting by Bruegel with the same subject.

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Collection book

Collection book Order


Title The Tower of Babel
Material and technique Oil on panel
Object type
Painting > Painting > Two-dimensional object > Art object
Location This object is in storage
Dimensions Width 74,6 cm
Height 59,9 cm
Artists Painter: Pieter Bruegel (I)
Accession number 2443 (OK)
Credits Acquired with the collection of D.G. Van Beuningen, 1958
Department Old Masters
Acquisition date 1958
Creation date in circa 1568
Collector Collector / D.G. van Beuningen
Internal exhibitions Van Eyck tot Bruegel (1994)
The Collection Enriched (2011)
De collectie als tijdmachine (2017)
BABEL - Oude meesters terug uit Japan / Old Masters Back from Japan (2018)
Lievelingen (2024)
External exhibitions Nederlandsche Kunst van de XVde en XVIde eeuw (1945)
Bruegel, een dynastie van schilders (1980)
Collection of Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen – Bruegel’s ‘The Tower of Babel’ and Great 16th Century Masters (2017)
Bruegel (2018)
Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen @ Rijksmuseum (2023)
Dutch Heritage - Focustentoonstelling Toren van Babel (2022)
Geographical origin Southern Netherlands > The Netherlands > Western Europe > Europe

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All about the artist

Pieter Bruegel (I)

Brueghel circa 1526/1530 - Brussel 1569

Pieter Bruegel was born around 1525, probably in or near Breda. From 1551 he worked in Antwerp, at the time one of the most important cities in Western Europe....

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