|Pieter Bruegel 1525?-1569||BACK
|The last and one of the greatest of early Netherlandish artists.
Bruegel was named after his birthplace, but there is no general
agreement which of three possible villages this was. Even the date of
his birth is uncertain, as are the details of his training. Obviously
an early influence on him was the work of Bosch and it is likely
Bruegel was apprenticed to P. Cock van Aelst, whose daughter he
married in 1563. After his marriage Bruegel moved from Antwerp to
Brussels. There is much conjecture but little evidence regarding
his position and attitude during the early years of the rebellion
against Spanish rule, the religious controversy and the horrors of
civil war. When Bruegel died he left a family of imitators. He
had established almost all the categories of later
Flemish painting and his own paintings were highly priced. Yet,
despite the admiration of Rubens and the fact that most of his
paintings were quickly acquired for royal collections, Bruegel's
reputation declined until the great revival of interest in his work
at the beginning of the 20th century.
Bruegel earned a living for many years with drawings for engravings published by the humanist printseller, Hieronymus Cock. About 40 paintings in oil and a few in tempera on linen survive. Briefly, the outstanding feature of Bruegel's style is its independence of Italian models at the time when most of his contemporaries in the Netherlands were already Romanists. In colour he favoured a muted palette of blue-greens, blue-greys and a wide range of browns, frequently enlivening the picture with points of clear colour, often yellow or red. He extended painting to include the countryside in all seasons, moods and weathers, following medieval Books of Hours and tapestries. He also showed much the same sympathetic but unsentimental interest in those who worked on the land.
The earliest dated painting by Bruegel, the Landscape with the Parable of the Sower, is now in San Diego, California. It shows a hilly landscape that leads from a shady slope across a river running diagonally towards a chain of mountains. The farmer in the foreground is busy sowing on poor soil. Other figures are found in the fields and trees in the far distance, or talking and picking fruit. A man is relieving himself. The actual subject matter, the New Testament parable the preaching Jesus. The sermon is about a peasant, who appears in the foreground of the picture as a parable. Earlier illustrations preferred to deal with the more popular of the farming parables, which was easier to moralize: the parable of the devil who sows weeds in the furrow of the hard-working farmer. God's reply to the latter's question as to what the farmer should do with the weeds, was that he should look after them all until harvest day, that is the Day of Judgment, had arrived.
The opening words of the parable - "Behold, a sower went forth to sow" - draw attention to the parable style, because talking in parables means talking visually. Bruegel attempts to recreate this "picture" with his painting. Jesus continues, "And when he sowed, some seeds fell by the wayside, and the fowls came and devoured them up. Some fell upon stony places where they had not much earth, and forthwith they sprang up because they had no deepness of earth; and when the sun was up, they were scorched, and because they had no root, they withered away. And some fell among thorns, and the thorns sprang up and choked them. But other seed fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit; some a hundred-fold, some sixty-fold, some thirty-fold. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear" (Matthew 13, 3 ff.)
|Landscape with the Parable of the Sowers, 1552
Big Fish Eat Little Fish, 1556
Triumph of Death, 1562
The Suicide of Saul, 1562
The Tower of Babel, 1563
The Procession to Calvary, 1564
The Massacre of Innocents, 1565
Christ and the Woman Taken in Adultery, 1565
Artist and Connoisseur, 1565
The Corn Harvest, 1565
The Wedding Dance in the Open Air, 1566
Magpie on the Gallows, 1568
The Peasant Wedding, 1568
The Old Peasant Woman, 1568
This listing of artists is not official. It is merely intended to group the artists in an easy to navigate format.
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