Pieter Bruegel (c.1525-1569)

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Pieter Bruegel was born near Breda around the time of 1525-1530. The early details of his life are a bit unclear. Historians tell us that he probably was apprenticed to Pieter Coeck van Aelst, a sculptor, architect, and designer of tapestry and stained glass. Bruegel later married his daughter.

The Tower of Babel

Landscape with the Fall of Icarus, 1555

As a young adult, Bruegel traveled abroad to various places. In Rome, he met Giulio Clovio, a well-known painter and miniaturist. Back in Antwerp, Bruegel began working for Hieronymus Cock who was an engraver. Bruegel’s work pleased Cock, and he was employed on many projects. This set the path for Bruegel’s continued success as both a painter and designer of prints.

In 1563, Bruegel married Mayken, Coeck’s daughter. He was surrounded by artists. Even his mother-in-law was a painter. She would later give painting lessons to his sons.

An etching of Jesus

In 1564, Bruegel was commissioned for a large project by a wealthy Antwerp merchant named Nicolaes Jonghelinck. This led to a collection of The Months. Unfortunately, only 5 of the 12 paintings survived.

In the last 6 years of his life, Bruegel’s paintings began to show influence of Italian Renaissance art. The figures in his paintings were now larger and more easily viewable.

The setting of the painting became of lesser concern. Still, Bruegel continued to produce other works that dealt with very small figures in perfectly defined space.

Bruegel died in 1569, leaving behind very few works. He was famous in his own lifetime, but some of his methods were outdated. He was resistant toward accepting the changes that accompanied current art movements, and it negatively affected his reputation, both in his lifetime and after his death.

Two Monkeys, 1562

Adoration of the Magi in Winter Landscape, 1567

When looking back at Bruegel’s work, many of his paintings show men, women, and children dressed in costumes while working or at play. Most of his subjects are peasants. Many people have trouble interpreting his paintings, considering them more difficult to analyze than many other 16th century paintings. We know virtually nothing about his life other than what his sons Jan and Peter were told by their mother. Because of this, many have spent countless amounts of time poring over and interpreting his art. Many theories contradict each other, and in many cases, his art remains a mystery.

The estimated surviving works of Bruegel are said to number under fifty, making it highly rare and desirable to acquire a Bruegel original.

If you believe you own a work of art by Pieter Bruegel, contact Art Experts. We authenticate, appraise, research and provide Certificates of Authenticity (COA's) for works by Pieter Bruegel.

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