Detroit's Institute of Arts is one of the nation's biggest and best museums. Its Italian Renaissance building (of Vermont marble) covers a city block, and holds treasures ranging from an Assyrian bas-relief to a mural by Diego Rivera. The public's favorite painting is Pieter Bruegel the Elder's big, brash The Wedding Dance.

For three centuries after his death Bruegel was considered a vulgarian and a boor, almost beneath the notice of refined art lovers. He painted the world around 16th Century Antwerp just as he saw it, with a sharp reporter's eye for detail. He drew with the assurance (though not...

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