Pieter Brueghel the Elder

Alexa Rainey S1/R1

The Early Years

Peeter Brueghels was born in Breda, Netherlands in 1525 and later moved to Antwerp where he joined the Guild of St. Luke and trained under Pieter Coeck van Aelst in 1551. He became a master, using natural form to create abstract concepts and created many paintings and drawings. He was very well educated and surrounded himself with intellectuals like Ortelius and learned from many fantastic painters during his travels.




Brueghel's Travels

Pieter spent many years traveling and studying under brilliant artists. He traveled to Italy where despite spending about three years there, his art was not influenced by the Italian culture. He also went to France and Rome but many of his years were spent in Antwerp and Brussels. His work reflected the places that he'd been, with beautiful landscape drawings.



Pieter's life

Pieter led a very interesting life. He married Mayken Coeke, the daughter of Pieter Coek Van Aelst. His two sons, Jan and Pieter the younger carried on his work as an artist but Brueghel's work was by far the most memorable. His work always seemed to tell a story. Some even say that he would disguise himself as a peasant to participate in festivities and better understand the mannerisms of a peasant. This resulted in paintings like "The Peasant Dance" and "Peasant Wedding".


Patrons and Renaissance Ideals

Princes and wealthy merchant families collected his works even during his lifetime.He created engravings for publisher Hieronymus Coek from Antwerp in 1553. In 1565 he decorated a mansion with one of his most favored painting "Hunters in the Snow".




Pieter used religious characters to depict human folly. In his work "Road to Calvary" Brueghel depicts a busy scene, and, in the center of it all, is Jesus carrying the cross. As such an important event takes place, most of the people in the painting go about their daily lives as if nothing is going on. So many religious executions went on under Spanish rule that executions were no longer of interest.

Hunters in the Snow 1565

Arguably Brueghel's best painting, this work of art was created for a wealthy patron who wanted six seasonal paintings to decorate his mansion. In this wintery picture several tired men return from a long hunt accompanied by their weary dogs. They come back with only a meager fox as a result of their work. This shows Pieter's exceptional landscape work and human emotions. The colors are muted and gray and everything is frozen over. I believe that this piece of work displays a lot of scientific naturalism because of the depth of the land. There is also more of a focus on man than there is on God, depicting the toil of man, which portrays humanism. The original painting can be found in the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, Austria. I find this painting interesting because I love the land and the way that Pieter portrays a wintery feeling through the scene and body language.


Work Cited

"Pieter Bruegel, The Elder." Authors and Artists for Young Adults. Vol. 71. Detroit: Gale, 2006. Biography in Context. Web. 18 Nov. 2013.


"Pieter Bruegel." International Dictionary of Art and Artists. Gale, 1990. Biography in Context. Web. 18 Nov. 2013.


"Pieter Bruegel the Elder." World Eras. Ed. Norman J. Wilson. Vol. 1: European Renaissance and Reformation, 1350-1600. Detroit: Gale Group, 2001. Biography in Context. Web. 18 Nov. 2013.


"Pieter Bruegel the Elder." Gale Biography in Context. Detroit: Gale, 2010. Biography in Context. Web. 18 Nov. 2013.


Brueghel, Pieter. "Return of the Hunters." ARTstor Library. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Nov. 2013.


Brueghel, Pieter. "Peasant's Wedding." ARTstor Library. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Nov. 2013.


Brueghel, Pieter. "The Way to Calvary." ARTstor Library. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Nov. 2013.