Friday, June 27, 2008

Pieter Bruegel the Elder

Today will be the last post on the Renaissance, at least for awhile. There are still plenty of artists I haven’t told you about, though, so you can feel certain that there will be more about the Renaissance in the future.

Like Jan van Eyck, Pieter Bruegel the Elder was from the Netherlands and painted during the Renaissance. You’ll notice that he was very different from the other Renaissance painters you’ve learned about, though. Firstly, Bruegel didn’t paint portraits. You won’t find any close-ups of royalty among Bruegel’s works. Secondly, he didn’t focus on details. Bruegel preferred to paint people in motion so the shape of their bodies was more important than the way the fabric of their clothes draped around them. And thirdly, Bruegel loved to paint landscapes. Other Renaissance painters created landscapes too, but they usually did so as backdrops for religious paintings.
Bruegel was born sometime in the late 1520s. His name was originally spelled with an “h” (Brueghel) but he dropped it in 1559. There were many artists in his family and this made it easy to tell him apart. Bruegel served as apprentice to Pieter Coeck van Aelst until 1551 when he became a master painter.

For the next three years, Bruegel traveled through Italy and met many important artists of the time.
As you can see in the paintings shown here, Bruegel liked to paint peasants. He often dressed up as a peasant and wandered through towns looking for inspiration. This earned him the nickname “Peasant Bruegel”

Bruegel had two sons, Pieter Brueghel the Younger and Jan Brueghel the Elder. They both became painters.
Bruegel died in 1569.

The paintings shown above, in order, are Peasant Wedding, Netherlandish Proverbs, and Tower of Babel. In Netherlandish Proverbs, Bruegel illustrates more than 100 wise sayings. For example, there is a man swimming against the current. Many of the sayings don’t exist in English but there are some you’ll recognize. See if you can find any.

Have a great weekend!

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Peter said...

Happy to see that you manage to include high quality images in you posts! (I know, sometimes there maybe copyright problems.)

Jessica said...

Luckily copyrights expire. Anything created before 1923 is fair game. After that it gets complicated. Wikipedia can usually tell you whether an image is still under copyright.

I'm happy to hear that the pictures are clear.