Richard Muhlberger, in What Makes A Bruegel A Bruegel? (New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1993) indicates that the pen and ink graphic on the left is a "self-portrait" of the artist, and might be the only known likeness.
Pieter Bruegel was a Flemish artist active in Antwerp and Brussels, famous for his paintings and drawings of landscapes and peasant life. Brueghel rejected the influences of Italian Renaissance art and its classical foundations.
Rather than depicting mythological subjects and idealized scenes, Brueghel's art portrays natural figures acting out realistic situations in contemporary settings.
Born Pieter Brueghel in the town of Breda, located in northern Brabant in present-day Holland, he later dropped the "h" from his name. He had two sons, Pieter the Younger and Jan, both of whom became well-known painters and retained the "h" in their names.
Brueghel's earliest works were landscapes. A number of his panoramic landscape drawings show his ability to depict changing seasonal moods and the atmospheric qualities of nature. These characteristics appear in his later landscape paintings, such as Hunters in the Snow (1565, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, Austria) and Magpie on the Gallows (1568, Hessiches Landesmuseum, Darmstadt, Germany).
Brueghel later made drawings for engravings. Some of these were landscapes, but others depicted fantastical, monstrous figures. Late in the 1550s Brueghel began a series of large painted panels depicting various aspects of Flemish folk life.
The earliest of the folk life paintings is an encyclopedic portrayal of common sayings, Netherlandish Proverbs (1559, Staatliche Museen, Berlin, Germany) In addition to Young Folks At Play (or Children's Games), one of his most famous folk paintings was The Wedding Dance.
Biographical information about the artist is from Encarta® 98.
Last update February 7, 2010