Pieter Bruegel, author of noises of the supernatural
Pieter Bruegel, known as the Elder, was a painter and engraver from Brabant born in about 1525 who died on 9 September 1569 in Brussels.
Very little is known about the life of this great painter; even his date and place of birth are a subject of controversy among specialists. We owe a description of his character to Carel van Mander (1548-1606), the author of a valuable collection of biographies about painters from the former Low Countries and the Germanic Roman Empire: "Het Schilder-Boeck", namely The Book of Painters. It says that Bruegel "was a quiet, and steady man who spoke little but was amusing in good company, taking pleasure in scaring his companions, particularly his students, with stories of ghosts and noises of the supernatural." And the supernatural could be found in his paintings, as can be seen in "The Fall of the Rebel Angels", dating from 1562, which recalls earlier works by Jérôme Bosch.
Up until 1550, Bruegel trained with the artist Pieter Coeck van Aelst in Antwerp. In 1551, he joined the Guild of Saint Luke. He worked as an engraver and a trader of prints with Hieronymus Cock. As many painters at the time, Bruegel visited Italy; he worked for a while in Rome, in 1553, but maintained his ties with Antwerp. During this journey he drew many of the landscapes he encountered. These drawings later inspired some of his works: Battle in the Bay of Naples, the setting for Landscape with the Fall of Icarus and The Suicide of Saul all bear witness to his journey. On his return, in 1555, he worked in Antwerp for an editor of engravings. In 1563, he settled in Brussels and married Mayken, the daughter of his former master in Antwerp, Pieter Coecke Van Aelst.
The painted works of Pieter Bruegel the Elder comprise about fifty paintings described as being by his hand, to which can be added an undefined number of works which have been lost. His works can be classified according to three main themes:
- religious scenes: Massacre of the Innocents, The Procession to Calvary, Adoration of the Kings in the Snow, etc.
- scenes from everyday life, the painter shows peasants at work and at play: The Peasant Wedding, The Harvesters, The Hunters in the Snow, Netherlandish Proverbs, The Fight Between Carnival and Lent, etc.
- and legends and philosophical themes: The Blind Leading the Blind, The Triumph of Death, etc.
Bruegel died in 1569, "in medio aetatis flore" (in the prime of life) and is buried in Notre-Dame de la Chapelle church in Brussels. He lived at the dawn of a new era which was opening up to the discovery of humans and the world. With his sweeping landscapes and his final paintings, he was behind a completely new form of art that influenced Flemish painting for almost a century.
To discover this artist's paintings, visit: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_paintings_by_Pieter_Bruegel_the_Elder.